A new study of teenagers in Canada has found that lesbian, gay and bisexual students are more at risk than heterosexuals when it comes to teenage pregnancy.
Unpublished results of the 2013 British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey show that gay and bisexual boys are nearly four times as likely to cause a pregnancy, and lesbian and bisexual girls are more than twice as likely to get pregnant, than their straight peers.
The study included 30,000 students aged 12 to 18 from 56 of the 59 school districts in British Columbia.
Dr Elizabeth Saewyc, of the University of British Columbia’s School of Nursing, told local newspaper 24 Hours Vancouver that LGB teens “still have increased risk compared to heterosexual teens”, a trend first noted in 2008.
She said: “Since then there have been other studies in other parts of the world that say the same thing. It would appear that the sexual orientation, in terms of pregnancy involvement, looks like it’s staying about the same.”
Although data trends are still being analysed, she suggested that “there definitely appears to be a link with experiencing discrimination and harassment. It may be that pregnancy involvement is a way to camouflage your sexual orientation to avoid or reduce your experiences of homophobic bullying.”
Dara Parker, executive director of Vancouver-based queer resource centre Qmunity, said she was “not entirely surprised” by the findings.
“Queer youth are at higher risk for almost everything that’s negative for a teenager,” she added. “They’re at high risk for risky behaviour.”
Claire O’Gorman of sex educators YouthCo suggested that the heteronormativity of sex education programmes may dissuade LGB youth from paying attention.
“Our sex education in B.C. needs a bit of a revamp — it needs to be consistent across the province,” she said. “People who are part of queer communities need to have their voices at the table to discuss what the curriculum should look like, so it’s as inclusive and relevant as possible.”