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Study shows increase in numbers of same-sex attracted youth

Study shows increase in numbers of same-sex attracted youth

LAST UPDATED // Monday, 12 May 2014 23:15 Written by // James Findlay

A new study from La Trobe University has revealed the amount of LGBT and questioning youth in Australia has more than doubled in the past five years to approximately 20 per cent.

The latest National Survey of Australian Secondary Schools and Sexual Health found 79 per cent of teenagers in years 10-12 associated as heterosexual, 11 percent associated with being attracted to both sexes (up from 6 per cent in 2008) and 6 per cent attracted to the same sex (up from 1 per cent in 2008). More than 4 per cent were unsure.

Lead Author, Professor Anne Mitchell from La Trobe University told MCV there were a couple of reasons why there was a stronger representation of same-sex attracted students in the survey.

“We’ve had the safe schools coalition in Victoria and other initiatives in other states and a lot of other social changes, which has made it a lot more acceptable, and to feel more supported in schools and in families to come out,” she said.

Professor Mitchell also said the study found the majority of same-sex attracted students found sexual education in schools unsatisfactory.

“We got a strong representation from same-sex attracted kids saying that they hadn’t been getting the right stuff [from sexual education], that it wasn’t relevant and there wasn’t anything in the programs for them, so we certainly think that it’s very useful to tell the schools that these kids feel very left out,” Mitchell said.

The study also found knowledge of HIV was relatively high, but knowledge on common STIs including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia remained quite poor, with HPV knowledge very poor.

The study also found 70 per cent of Year 10-12 students had sent a sexually explicit text message and 84 per cent had received one, while more than half sent a naked or semi-nude image or video of themselves.

Despite the increase in ‘sexts’ sent and received with teenagers, the report also found the rate of sexual encounters dropping slightly, as teenagers decide to wait.

Although the study findings show such a dramatic jump in the amount of same-sex attracted and questioning students from the last survey, Professor Mitchell is cautious about touting these particular figures.

“We changed our recruitment method and recruited a large amount of school students outside schools by an online survey, and we got an overrepresentation of same sex attracted students,” she said.

“But nevertheless, you’ve still got a figure of up to 20 per cent of kids in schools who are not unequivocally heterosexual”.


James Findlay

James Findlay

James Findlay is a Melbourne-based writer and broadcaster who has worked in community media for many years. He has won awards for his work on The Naughty Rude Show on SYN, and can be heard on JOY 94.9's breakfast program, Triple Threat, and Hide and Seek - exploring sex, sexuality and self. James was also the Marketing and PR Manager for Melbourne's Midsumma Festival for two years, before traveling overseas where he taught English in Germany and worked as a tour guide around Western Europe. He is currently studying his Masters at Melbourne University in Public Health (specialising in Sexual Health).

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