Gay, lesbian and bisexual (LGB) youth in the US are at greater risk of engaging in unhealthy and unsafe behaviours compared to their straight counterparts.

These behaviours include tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual risk behaviours, suicidal behaviours, and violence, said the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in a new report.

“This report should be a wake-up call for families, schools and communities that we need to do a much better job of supporting these young people,” said Howell Wechsler, director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.

The report is the first time that the US federal government has conducted an analysis of LGB youth of this magnitude.

‘Dramatic disparities for so many different health risks…’

Researchers analysed data from Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys conducted during 2001–2009 in seven states and six large urban school districts.

“Any effort to promote adolescent health and safety must take into account the additional stressors these youth experience because of their sexual orientation, such as stigma, discrimination, and victimisation,” said Wechsler.

“We are very concerned that these students face such dramatic disparities for so many different health risks.”

Another study published late last year in the US revealed that lesbian, gay and bisexual teens are much more likely to be punished and more severely than other adolescents.

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