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Lesbian, bisexual teenage girls unaware of same-sex intercourse risks: UBC study

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Summary

Lesbian and bisexual girls may not be taking steps to protect themselves during sex with other females, a study finds

A focus group was made up of sexually and non-sexually active American teenage girls between 14 and 18 years of age

The study found the teens also didn't know what tools, such as dental dams, are available to them for protection

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Lesbian and bisexual girls may not be taking steps to protect themselves during sex with someone who is also female because they don’t think there’s any risk, according to a study out of the University of British Columbia.

An online focus group of 160 sexually and non-sexually active American teenage girls between 14 and 18 years of age found many of them either hadn’t or wouldn’t use protective barriers because they didn’t think they could contract a sexually transmitted infection from a partner of the same sex.

“What surprised me was their level of knowledge that they could get disease from boys, and the concern about pregnancy, in contrast to this giant lack of knowledge about the same sex girls,” UBC youth health researcher and study author Jennifer Wolowic said, adding data in Canada points to a similar trend.

The teens also didn’t know what tools, such as dental dams, are available to them for protection.

Further questions revealed the girls felt sexual education at their schools wasn’t adequate and they didn’t know where to get the answers.

“Either they didn’t know of a program that was outside the school or if it was in school it was so much focused on avoiding pregnancy and traditional transmission of diseases,” Wolowic said. “They also felt really uncomfortable asking these questions.”

The was done in conjunction with the Centre for Innovative Public Health an American non-profit that develops technology-based health interventions for sexual minority youths.

Sex education has improved in BC, according to Kristen Gilber with Options for Sexual Health, but teachers and parents may not know about LGBTQ topics.

“That’s one of my focus, that teachers feel knowledgeable, empowered, capable and confident in delivering sex education, and I can tell you many do not,” she said. “Most of us didn’t get sex ed in school ourselves so not only don’t we have a lot of training to help us feel confident about the delivery of sex ed, but we also don’t have anything to model from our own school experience.”

Creating an inclusive environment, where teachers take the initiative to talk about sexual minorities may also make students feel more comfortable asking questions, Gilber said.

A new program is also helping teachers develop lesson plans in all subjects in Western Canada. The Sexual Orientation Gender Identity (SOGI) 123 curriculum offers educators tools to foster an inclusive environment. The Ministry of Education is responsible for the creation of BC curriculum.