Study: Lesbian, bisexual women take more health risks than gay men

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 27 2002 1:00 AM ET

A study by researchers at Western Kentucky University shows that college-age women who are lesbian or bisexual are more likely to use drugs, attempt suicide, and adopt other risky behaviors than are college-age gay and bisexual men, Reuters Health reports. The study was based on a survey of 927 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students at colleges across the country. Lesbians and bisexual women were also shown to recognize their sexual orientation and begin having sex at a later age than gay and bisexual men, were less likely to use condoms or other barriers during oral sex, were more likely to be regular smokers, and were more likely to use marijuana, LSD, and hallucinogenic drugs. The researchers reported that 10% of lesbian and bisexual women surveyed reported having attempted suicide during the past year, compared to 4% of gay and bisexual men.
The study's findings suggest that homosexual women, on average, are perhaps more troubled than homosexual men, and people working to help homosexuals and bisexuals should especially target their efforts toward women, said lead researcher Lisa L. Lindley. She also recommends that educators teach students about sexual orientation at an earlier age to help minimize future risky behaviors among gay and lesbian youth. "You're going to have kids, even in elementary school, who may not know it yet but may be gay and lesbian," she said. "And to exclude them at such a young age, you're setting them up for problems. To ignore them, it's abuse, in my opinion."