Gay teens more likely to smoke, drink: study

Mon Jun 6, 2011 5:49pm EDT
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By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters Life!) - Gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students are more likely than heterosexual students to engage in such risky behavior as smoking, drinking alcohol and carrying guns, a new report shows.

The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which surveyed 156,000 high school students and was released on Monday, is the largest of its kind by the federal government.

"This report should be a wake-up call for families, schools and communities that we need to do a much better job of supporting these young people," said Howell Wechsler, director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Heath.

"We are very concerned that these students face such dramatic disparities for so many different health risks."

Researchers analyzed data from student surveys conducted from 2001-2009 in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin, and also in the Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, San Diego and San Francisco school districts.

When asked if they had driven a car while drinking alcohol within the last 30 days, 15.4 percent of gay and lesbian students said they had, compared to 7.8 percent of heterosexual students.

When asked about guns 12 percent of gay and lesbian students said they had carried a gun at least one day during the previous month, almost four times more than heterosexual students.

There also was a large disparity with cigarette smoking, with 27.8 percent of gay and lesbian students reporting they had smoked more than 10 cigarettes in a day during the previous month compared to 9.1 percent of heterosexual students.   Continued...