A new analysis of teen sexual behavior in New York City offers some troubling/fascinating/instructive insights — and not just of the “only in New York” variety.
Published in the latest Pediatrics, the study found (for one thing) that among sexually active adolescent boys and girls, nearly one in ten had had a same-sex experience. But how many called themselves “gay”? Well, of the teens who’d had at least one same-sex partner, 38.9 percent answered “heterosexual or straight.” Which is fine in a hey-who-needs-labels sense — and hooray for experimentation, when that’s what it is — but not fine in a hey-who-needs-condoms sense. That is, the study also found that teens reporting partners of both sexes also reported higher-than-average rates of risky sexual practices, such as not using a condom during intercourse.
Hmm. Especially among those in the “I’m not really gay” camp, could there be a related sense that “it’s not really sex”? And does “I’m not really gay” stem from “Gay’s not really OK?” (”Even in New York”?) “These are kids in New York City where there’s more awareness and perhaps acceptance of non-heterosexual behavior, and you’re still finding such high reports of risk behavior and violence,” Laura Lindberg, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told the AP.
Ah yes, also violence. Students reporting same-sex partners also reported higher rates of dating violence. What’s going on there? Back to the AP:
Thomas Krever, executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a youth advocacy organization that runs an alternative high school for gay teens in New York City, said the survey results did not surprise him.
Many teens with partners of both sexes lack supportive adults and peers in their lives and may experience depression because social stigma, Krever said.
“Young people who are exhibiting characteristics of depression and lower self-worth can indeed place themselves in more risky situations including risky sexual practices,” he said.
1. As advocates continue to stress, sex ed has to focus not on identity/orientation, but on behavior. No matter what you call what you do, it’s safer with a condom.
Filed under: issues, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 6:27 am
I know that not everyone thinks It Gets Better is the best response to anti-LGBT bullying. I understand the criticism — it’s facile, it’s privileged, it misplaces responsibility — and even agree with much of it. But I’m still a fan of IGB, not as the response to anti-queer bullying, but as a response among what needs to be more and more, at individual and societal levels. That’s why I like Hillary Clinton’s contribution (h/t Andrew Sullivan) as an addition to the mix. She (appropriately, for her position) makes it not about you the sufferer versus them the mean kids, but about civil — American — society, how far it has come, and what it demands. Yes, it’s on the bullies to desist and the queer kids to keep it real, but more than that, it’s on all of us.
And it’s on all of us not just to give miserable kids hope for magical “later” land when they get to graduate and move to Seattle. It’s on us to help them — and continue changing the culture — now. Some less in-the-headines folks who are working to make it better, today:
Filed under: blogs, issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 7:09 am
In Internet years this is ancient already, but I wanted to make sure that the ten of you who haven’t seen this yet did. Truly moving, and possibly live-saving, it’s Dan Savage’s You-Tube-based It Gets Better project. Savage wrote:
Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother’s property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates — classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself….I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.
But gay adults aren’t allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don’t bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay — or from ever coming out — by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.
Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.
And so we are. Watch (and upload your own?):
H/t Marjorie Ingall (w/whom BG shares mixed feelings about Dan Savage. But not in this case.)
It’s the National Sex Ed Week of Action! Now with PRIZES! (For the first reader who emails me with answers to the quiz below!) But first, a quick true or false:
• The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate among the world’s developed nations.
• According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one in four teen girls has a sexually transmitted infection.
• Half of sexually active young people in the U.S. will contract a sexually transmitted infection by age 25.
• Approximately 750,000 teenagers in the United States will become pregnant this year.
• The health care reform bill included a renewal of $50 million per year funding of abstinence-only education for states until 2014.
• This Op-Ed by an Atlanta teen about the importance of comprehensive, accurate sex ed is awesome.
Answer key: TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE.
Which, now that we’re all riled up, brings us to the one with PRIZES!Planned Parenthood of NYC, BG’s local affiliate, is giving away a package of safe-sex goodies to the BG reader who emails me with the correct answers to all five of the following (at least peripherally) sex-ed related questions. Pencils ready?
1. In how many states is it still illegal for an unmarried heterosexual couple to live together?
2. What was the name of the first daytime television show to feature a same sex wedding?
3. What famous female advocate founded the first birth control clinic and later founded Planned Parenthood?
4. Japanese love pillows, which usually decorated with life-size animae characters are called what?
5. What species was the famous gay couple who raised an offspring named Tango together?