Sexual Health Risks and Protective Resources in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Homeless Youth


  • Lynn Rew, EdD, RNC, FAAN, is the Denton & Louise Cooley and Family Centennial Professor in Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing; Tiffany A. Whittaker, PhD, MS, is Assistant Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia; Margaret A. Taylor-Seehafer PhD, RN, FNP, is Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing; and Lorie R. Smith MSN, RN, is a staff nurse, Barnard College Health Services, New York City.

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issues and purpose. To compare sexual health risks and protective resources of homeless adolescents self-identified as gay (G), lesbian (L), or bisexual (B), with those self-identified as heterosexual, and to determine the differences between these two groups and the differences within the GLB group.

design and methods. A secondary analysis of survey data collected from a nonprobability sample of 425 homeless adolescents between 16 and 20 years of age.

results. Sexual health risks and protective resources differed between those self-identified as GLB and those self-identified as heterosexual. More G/L youth reported a history of sexual abuse and being tested and treated for HIV, and more scored lower on the assertive communication measure than did bisexual or heterosexual youth. Moreover, there were gender differences within the GLB group; more males than females self-identified as homosexual and more females than males self-identified as bisexual.

practice implications. Sexual health interventions for this population should be both gender- and sexual orientation-specific.