Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health Vol. 43; No. 3:
The authors introduced the current study by noting that an
accurate understanding of youths' sexual behavior is necessary
for the development of effective interventions. Little is
known, however, about the prevalence and correlates of same-
sex sexual activity among teens and young adults. This is
particularly true for those who do not self-identify as gay,
lesbian or bisexual.
The team used descriptive and regression analyses of data from
the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth to examine patterns
and correlates of same-sex sexual activity among a sample of
2,688 never-married, non-cohabitating males and females ages
15-21. "Same-sex behavior was assessed separately by gender,
as well as by heterosexual experience and sexual attraction
and identity," the authors wrote.
Same-sex sexual experience was reported by 11 percent of women
and 4 percent of men. Those youths who were attracted only to
the opposite sex had a decreased likelihood of reporting same-
sex activity (rate ratio, 0.1 for each gender). Women and men
who identified as homosexual or bisexual had an elevated
likelihood of same-sex sexual activity (5.1 and 5.9,
respectively). Among women attracted to men exclusively, those
who had had heterosexual sex were more than four times as
likely as those who had not to have engaged in same-sex
activity as well.
"Finally, among youth who reported any same-sex attraction,
women and men who said they were homosexual or bisexual had an
elevated likelihood of having engaged in same-sex behavior
(4.7 and 5.6, respectively)," the authors wrote. "A
significant proportion of 'straight' youth engage in same-sex
activity, and so information on risks associated with such
behavior should be included in sex education programs and
targeted to all youth."