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SNAPSHOT: LGBT Risk for Teen Pregnancy

Female adolescents who identify as gay or bisexual are two to seven times more likely to get pregnant than their heterosexual counterparts, according to new research published in the journal LGBT Health.

Those who don’t self-identify as LGBT, but who say they are attracted to other females, or to both males and females, are also at higher risk for teen pregnancy, the study found. It was conducted by Margaret Paschen-Wolff, a graduate of the doctoral program at CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, and Professors Christian Grov and Elizabeth Kelvin.

A young pregnant girl stands on a sidewalk holding her belly

One possible explanation is that female adolescents “who express attraction to both males and females may engage in more sex with male partners to conceal their attraction to females and to cope with both bisexual stigma and expectations of heteronormativity,” the authors wrote.

They suggested that adolescent females who are attracted to both males and females, but who do not self-identify as bisexual, may not receive the community support that outwardly gay or bisexual women receive. Being stigmatized or facing discrimination is a risk factor for teen pregnancy.

Sexual health education and services that overlook sexual diversity may lead teens attracted to both sexes to not fully understand their pregnancy risk or lack knowledge for pregnancy prevention.