This is an article that I read a bit ago which somewhat surprised me. It made me wonder how things were back when I was in high school.
Nearly one in ten teens who is sexually active has had a same-sex partner — double what previous research has shown, according to a surprising new study. The latest findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, reveal that 9.3 percent of teenagers say they have had at least one partner who is the same sex as they are.
That’s about twice as many as indicated in a 2002 study of Massachusetts and Vermont teens showing 5 to 6 percent of teen having sex had had same-sex partners. “I don’t know that it means there’s an increase in prevalence,” said Massachusetts psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat, AOL Health’s mental health expert. “As homosexuality has become more and more accepted in society, people are more willing to acknowledge their sexuality than they used to be.”
The new research analyzed data from 17,220 teenagers — 42 percent of whom said they were sexually active — in New York City who filled out public health surveys. It found that those who had sexual encounters with members of their own gender or with both genders were more prone to forced sex, dating violence and risky sexual behavior, including a failure to use condoms. That put teenagers who had had a gay sexual experience at a greater risk for contracting STDs. “Clearly there’s a high rate of same-sex partners among teens, and we need to recognize any vulnerabilities that may be associated with these behaviors,” Dr. Susan Blank, an assistant commissioner at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told Reuters.
More than a third of teens — about 4 percent of the study participants — who had had same-sex partners identified themselves as straight, according to the study. More than half of the boys who’d had bisexual encounters didn’t wear a condom compared to just a fifth of those who had only had heterosexual sex. For girls, about half of those who engaged in bisexual behavior didn’t use condoms versus 30 percent of those who engaged exclusively in heterosexual sex. About a third of teen boys who had bisexual experiences said they’d had forced sex, compared to 6 percent of boys who reported having only heterosexual experiences.
Nearly 36 percent of girls with both male and female partners said they’d experienced dating violence in the past year, and almost 35 percent of boys with partners of both sexes had experienced dating violence in the previous year, according to the study. Significantly lower percentages of boys and girls with just same-sex partners reported recent dating violence. The adolescents with partners of both sexes “are obviously facing challenges,” Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, which specializes in sexual and reproductive health research, told the Associated Press.
Carlat said the increase in teens with same-sex partners can be explained in part by cultural shifts in the last decade, including the legalization of same-sex marriages and unions in some states and the spike in celebrities talking about same-sex encounters. He pointed to Katy Perry’s hit song “I Kissed a Girl” as being a “watershed moment.” “It was a No. 1 song and got teens and ‘tweens talking about it as something that was acceptable,” he told AOL Health. “I don’t see this as being dangerous though. I don’t think we’re seeing young people being drawn to sexual contact that they’d be otherwise unwilling to do. … It’s normal for teens to have same-sex encounters as they grow up.”