A study among out LGBT teenagers in the US has found that only 35% of them have revealed their sexuality to their doctor.
131 teenagers attending the Models of Pride Youth Conference, which met in Oregon to discuss empowerment for LGBT people, took part in the survey.
The fact that all of the young people who participated in the study were attending such an event means they are more open about their sexual orientation than most other gay teenagers.
Despite this, only a third had told their family doctor they were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
90% said they had been to the doctor in the past two years. They gave a range of reasons for not disclosing their sexuality, among them fears that the physician would tell their parents or would disapprove.
“One of the strongest predictors of whether or not the teens disclosed their sexual orientation was whether the physician had discussed sex with them at all,” said one of the report’s authors, Dr Garth Meckler.
“Very few physicians were regularly discussing sexuality, even though sex is one of the major developmental challenges and health risks at that age.”
The presence of a parent in the consulting room also proved a discouragement to many teens.
Dr. Mark Schuster, senior author of the study, said that doctors should not make assumptions about the sexuality of their patients.
“Rather than ask a boy if he’s dating any girls, we should be open to all possibilities. That will send a message to a gay teen that this is a doctor who understands sexual orientation.
“It will also send a message to all teens that this is a doctor who will likely be comfortable talking about whatever the teen wants to discuss.”