Data suggest that lesbian and bisexual adolescents engage in risky sexual behaviors at higher rates than heterosexual girls. Whether these findings also apply to girls of other sexual identities is less well understood. Potential differences in risky sexual behaviors reported by lesbian versus bisexual adolescents are also underreported in the literature.
Data were collected online in 2010–2011 among 2,823 girls, aged 13–18 years, in the United States. Multinomial logistic regression was used to quantify comparisons of sexual behaviors between (1) lesbian; (2) bisexual; and (3) questioning, unsure, or other (QUO) identity; and (0) heterosexual girls. Logistic regression compared lesbian and bisexual adolescents.
Lesbian and bisexual adolescents reported significantly more lifetime and past-year sexual partners than heterosexual girls. Bisexual girls were also more likely to report penile-anal and penile-vaginal sex, whereas lesbians were more likely to report earlier sexual debut for almost all types of sex, as compared to heterosexual girls. Lesbians also were more likely to report infrequent condom use and less likely to have conversations with partners about the use of barriers (e.g., dental dams) before first sex. Relative to lesbians, bisexual girls reported older age at first sex for almost all sexual behaviors and higher lifetime prevalence of recent male partners, penile-vaginal, and penile-anal sex. Few differences were noted between QUO and heterosexual girls.
Sexual minority adolescents are not identical in terms of sexual risk. Providers need to be sensitive to these differences and their implications for health and counseling of patients.