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Sexual minorities -- Health and hygiene -- Oregon, Sexual health, Sexual minorities -- Sexual behavior -- Oregon, Sexual minorities -- Services for


Although persons of different sexual and gender orientations often get grouped together under the term “LGBTQ” (for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning), it is important to distinguish between subpopulations based on sexual vs. gender orientation. A person’s sexual orientation is the gender to which a person is emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted. Gender identity is how a person self-identifies as a particular gender regardless of biological sex characteristics. “Transgender” describes persons who are born a certain sex, but identify with, and consequently wish to live as, a different gender than the sex their anatomy dictates. According to data from the 2009 Oregon Healthy Teens survey, 5% of 11th graders identify as being lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and another 2.3% report being “unsure” of their sexual orientation (i.e., questioning); almost 10% of female and 5% of male 11th graders report same-sex sexual experiences. The prevalence of transgender or gender non-conforming youth is unknown.

Health disparities among LGBTQ persons have received more public health attention in recent years. The Healthy People 2020 objectives, which set the federal government’s national goals for health, includes a goal to “improve the health, safety, and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals.”2 In 2011, the Institute of Medicine released a consensus report that highlights the health status of persons of different sexual and gender orientations.3 However, both of these initiatives acknowledge the lack of data to inform this topic, especially regarding the health of transgender persons.


This research brief on the sexual health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth is part five of a seven part series on the sexual health disparities of marginalized youth.

Originally appeared in Gowen, L. K., & Aue, N. (Eds.) (2011). Sexual Health Disparities Among Disenfranchised Youth. Portland, OR: Public Health Division, Oregon Health Authority and Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University.

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