Gay B.C. teens at higher risk for pregnancy
Lesbian, gay and bisexual teens in British Columbia are at a higher risk of becoming pregnant or causing a pregnancy than their heterosexual peers because of discrimination, sexual abuse and harassment, according to a new study.
Authors of the B.C. Adolescent Health Survey say that these teens are more likely to take part in higher-risk behaviours, such as not using condoms or starting to have sex at an early age.
The findings are conducted every five or six years in school districts across B.C. by the McCreary Centre Society, a small non-profit organization that addresses youth health issues.
The results of this year's study cannot be compared to other provinces because British Columbia is the only province that tracks trends in sexual health for lesbian, gay and bisexual teens as well as heterosexual youth.
McCreary Centre director Elizabeth Saewyc say that while teen pregnancies are declining across the province, gay and lesbian youth face up to seven times the rate of pregnancy compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
Saewyc says part of the reason is because the harassment that gay, lesbian and bisexual teens face puts them at higher risk for sexual abuse.
"That abuse leads to physical and mental health problems in gay youth," she said. "And the chances are that makes you more likely to engage in risky behaviour."
She says the issue isn't unique to British Columbia, but faces bisexual, gay and lesbian teens all over.
More than 73,000 students from grades seven to 12 have participated in the study since its inception in 1992.
The organization works with Statistics Canada to select a representative sample of students from the province.
The full report will be released in early 2009.
With files from The Canadian Press