Out Yonder: Sexual-Minority Adolescents in Rural Communities in British Columbia

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Abstract

Objectives

We compared sexual-minority adolescents living in rural communities with their peers in urban areas in British Columbia, exploring differences in emotional health, victimization experiences, sexual behaviors, and substance use.

Methods

We analyzed a population-based sample of self-identified lesbian, gay, or bisexual respondents from the British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey of 2003 (weighted n = 6905). We tested rural-urban differences separately by gender with the χ2 test and logistic regressions.

Results

We found many similarities and several differences. Rural sexual-minority adolescent boys were more likely than were their urban peers to report suicidal behaviors and pregnancy involvement. Rural sexual-minority adolescents, especially girls, were more likely to report various types of substance use. Rural status was associated with a lower risk of dating violence and higher risk of early sexual debut for sexual-minority girls and a higher risk of dating violence and lower risk of early sexual debut for sexual-minority boys.

Conclusions

Location should be a demographic consideration in monitoring the health of sexual-minority adolescents. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents in rural communities may need additional support and services as they navigate adolescence.

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