A national study of lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), and non-LGB youth sexual behavior online and in-person

Research Project: Teen Health and Technology

Ybarra ML, Mitchell KJ. A national study of lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), and non-LGB youth sexual behavior online and in-person. Arch Sex Behav. 2015. doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0491-7.

Online and in-person sexual behaviors of cisgender lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, heterosexual, questioning, unsure, and youth of other sexual identities were examined using data from the Teen Health and Technology study. Data were collected online between August 2010 and January 2011 from 5,078 youth 13-18 years old. Results suggested that, depending on sexual identity, between 4-35 % of youth had sexual conversations and 2-24 % shared sexual photos with someone online in the past year. Among the 22 % of youth who had oral, vaginal, and/or anal sex, between 5-30 % met one of their two most recent sexual partners online. Inconsistent condom use was associated with increased odds of meeting one’s most recent partner online for heterosexual adolescent men. For gay and queer adolescent men, having an older partner, a partner with a lifetime history of sexually transmitted infections (STI), and concurrent sex partners were each significantly associated with increased odds of having met one’s most recent sex partner online. None of the examined characteristics significantly predicted meeting one’s most recent sexual partner online versus in-person for heterosexual; bisexual; or gay, lesbian, and queer women. The Internet is not replacing in-person exploration and expression of one’s sexuality and meeting sexual partners online appears to be uncommon in adolescence across sexual identities. Healthy sexuality programming that acknowledges some youth are meeting partners online is warranted, but this should not be a main focal point. Instead, inclusive STI prevention programming that provides skills to reduce risk when engaging in all types of sex is critical.

PubMed ID: 25894645

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