About the Report LGB Youth

The report – Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12 – is based, in part, on data from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) which is the first nationally representative study of U.S. lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students.

More than 15,000 U.S. high school students participated in the 2015 National YRBS. Parental permission was obtained for students to participate in the survey, student participation was voluntary, and responses were anonymous. CDC has been conducting the National YRBS biennially since 1991.

In addition to the National YRBS, state and local health and education agencies conduct their own YRBS. This report also contains data from 25 state and 19 large urban school district surveys conducted during 2015. The states and large urban school districts can modify the standard YRBS questionnaire to meet their needs, but all the sites included in the report used at least one of the two questions on sexual identity and sex of sexual contacts.

A few key definitions that may be helpful in covering the findings of this report:

  • Sexual identity and sex of sexual contacts: Research shows that sexual identity and behavior do not always match, particularly among youth. Some individuals who identify themselves as heterosexual have engaged in same-sex activity, and vice versa. Additionally, many youth who identify themselves as gay, straight, lesbian or bisexual have not yet had sexual contact. For this reason, the report measures both constructs: Sexual Identity and Sex of Sexual Contacts.
  • Sexual contact: No definition was provided for sexual contact. Therefore, it is likely that students considered a range of sexual activities when responding to these questions.
  • Not sure: It’s likely most youth who identified as “unsure” are questioning, but it’s possible some youth may not have understood question.

The full report can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/ss6509a1.htm.

Page last reviewed: August 11, 2016