Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 1087–1097 | Cite as

Sexual Health Risk Behavior Disparities Among Male and Female Adolescents Using Identity and Behavior Indicators of Sexual Orientation

  • V. Paul PoteatEmail author
  • Stephen T. Russell
  • Alexis Dewaele
Original Paper


Sexual minority adolescent sexual risk behavior studies often overlook young women, do not consider behavior- and identity-based sexual orientation indicators in combination, and focus mainly on condomless sex. We examined multiple risk behaviors in a large sample of adolescent young men and women using combined behavior- and identity-based indices. The 2015 Dane County Youth Assessment data included 4734 students in 22 high schools who had ever voluntarily engaged in sexual contact (51.7% male; 76.0% White, non-Hispanic). Items assessed having sex with unfamiliar partners, sex while using substances, using protection, and STI testing. Logistic regressions tested for disparities based on combined identity- and behavior-based sexual orientation indicators. For both young men and women, youth who reported heterosexual or questioning identities—but who had sex with same-sex partners—were at consistently greater risk than heterosexual youth with only different-sex partners. Also, for both young men and women, bisexuals with partners of both sexes more consistently reported higher risk than heterosexual youth than did bisexuals with only different-sex partners. Risk behavior for gay young men who had sex only with men mirrored those in extant literature. Risk levels differed for specific groups of sexual minority young women, thus deserving further attention. Findings underscore the need for sexual health research to consider sexual orientation in a more multidimensional manner.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning youth Sexual health behavior Sexual orientation Sexually transmitted infections 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standard

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed assent was obtained from all students who participated in the DCYA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Paul Poteat
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephen T. Russell
    • 2
  • Alexis Dewaele
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational PsychologyBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family SciencesUniversity of TexasAustinUSA
  3. 3.Experimental-Clinical and Health PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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