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Same-gender sex linked to risky behavior

ATLANTA, June 6 (UPI) -- Students who say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual and have sex with the same sex or both sexes are apt to engage in risky behavior, U.S. officials say.

Howell Wechsler, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention division of adolescent and school health, says for the purposes of the study, unhealthy risk behaviors were defined as those such as tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual risky behaviors, suicidal behaviors and violence.

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Wechsler and colleagues analyzed data from Youth Risk Behavior Surveys conducted from 2001 to 2009 in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin-and six large urban school districts -- Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, San Diego and San Francisco.

Data were collected on high school students' sexual identity -- heterosexual, gay or lesbian, bisexual, or unsure.

"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. Any effort to promote adolescent health and safety must take into account the additional stressors these youth experience because of their sexual orientation, such as stigma, discrimination, and victimization," Wechsler says in a statement. "We are very concerned that these students face such dramatic disparities for so many different health risks."

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