Monday, February 17, 2014

What's LGBTQ Got to Do With It?

Last month, I got the opportunity to present a webinar for the SC Campaign, “Meeting the Healthcare Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth.”  This is a research area that I am very passionate about, and I am well-versed on the literature on this topic. My dissertation even focused on the health outcomes and communication practices of this population. The webinar went extremely well and at the conclusion, I gave the audience an opportunity to ask questions. I found it ironic that three people asked me the same thing: “What does LGBTQ youth have to do with teen pregnancy?” This question was quite baffling to me, as I thought I illustrated the relationship between sexual health outcomes and LGBTQ youth in my presentation.

After weeks of pondering, I felt this was a question that needed to be addressed and a myth that needed to be dispelled.  LGBTQ youth, also referred to as sexual minority youth, are at risk of getting pregnant just like any other youth. It is quite ignorant to believe that someone who identifies as LGBTQ cannot get pregnant or has no interest in pregnancy prevention. Research shows that lesbian and bisexual females are two to seven times more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy than their heterosexual counterpart. That’s right… lesbian and bisexual youth are more likely to get pregnant than a heterosexual adolescent. Furthermore, lesbian and bisexual females are about as likely to have sex with a male partner as a heterosexual female, yet more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy. This is due in part to inconsistent and incorrect use of contraceptives. This research highlights the need for teen pregnancy prevention programs and contraceptive counseling targeted specifically for sexual minority youth.

The take-home message here is this: just because someone identifies as LGBTQ does not mean that they are exempt or protected from pregnancy. We, as health professionals, educators, and providers, have an important role to play in improving the health outcomes and overall well-being of LGBTQ youth. It is imperative that we understand that LGBTQ youth and teen pregnancy go hand-in-hand because the same behavior, regardless of one’s sexual orientation, can contribute to this outcome.  So, if you want to know what LGBTQ youth have to do with teen pregnancy…this population has everything to do with teen pregnancy and should no longer be overlooked in prevention efforts.

To view the webinar mentioned above, click here

No comments:

Post a Comment