A Lesson About Identity, Behavior, Perception and Risk

By Lis Maurer, MS and Maureen Kelly


By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

1. Explain the disparities between rates of unplanned pregnancy of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, and heterosexual youth.

2. Describe the difference between identity and/or group connections and behavior, and ways that this distinction is important when it comes to sexual health.

3. Identify factors that may put lesbian, gay and bisexual youth at higher risk for unplanned pregnancy, and thus also sexually transmitted infections (STIs), than heterosexual youth.

4. Describe how people of all orientations can reduce their risk for unplanned pregnancy and STIs.


Despite “conventional wisdom” that might indicate otherwise, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth are at even greater risk for unplanned pregnancy than their heterosexual peers. And since unprotected sexual behaviors that may lead to unplanned pregnancy also put people at risk for STIs, LGB youth also face increased STI risks. This lesson provides an opportunity for participants to learn about this unexpected and complex lens through which to explore unplanned pregnancy and the risk for STIs. This lesson also provides participants with an opportunity to assess their own risk and provides information to encourage behavior change to increase intentional and protective safer sex choices.

Note: When teaching about risk factors for any group ― teens, women, people of color; lesbian, gay, and bisexual people; transgender people, etc. ― it is useful to share some information about resilience as well as risks. See, for example, procedure steps 6 and 7.

It is important to recognize that LGB adolescents may have different-sex and same-sex sexual partners. All safer sex lessons need to recognize the important distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behavior, and include LGB people in sexual health messages while not assuming their orientation predicts a specific set of behaviors. When participants leave the class after this lesson, they will be informed but also inspired to know that some simple changes ― such as broadening safer sex messages to a behavior-based discussion rather than an identity-based discussion ― can make a world of difference.

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