THE SEX FILES: Survey Says

I just read a recent survey that caught my eye. It states: “Nearly 10 percent of sexually active New York City high school students say they have had at least one same-sex partner.”

Is ten percent a large number? Is anybody surprised that some girls are doing more than just hanging with other girls or that some guys are getting chummy in ways that do not necessarily include hanging out at a ballgame? I’m not sure that every statistic I read about sex is important or even accurate and you know the old axiom, that when someone starts counting, you should start doubting.

People weighing in on this report published just this Monday in the journal Pediatrics (analyzing 17,220 public health surveys) seem to have a hell of a lot more credentials than me, but I fear not as much smarts. For instance:

“It’s troubling, though not surprising, that the youths who reported encounters with both sexes also had higher rates of risky behavior and violence,” says Dr. Susan Blank, assistant commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “It has been shown in the literature that students who have both male and female partners have a lot of adverse health problems.”

I wonder what literature the good doctor means, more surveys perhaps? And why do students that have both male and female sex partners have ‘adverse sex problems’ and what does Dr. Blank mean by adverse? As a woman with a ‘DR’ at the beginning of her name she should know not to be so vague, dare I say…blank?

Maybe Thomas Krever, executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a youth advocacy organization that runs an alternative high school for gay teens in New York City, can shed some light. Tommy says: “Many teens with partners of both sexes lack supportive adults and peers in their lives and may experience depression because of social stigma.”

Is this true? I mean, sure two teen boys holding hands in high school (though not Tom’s school) is probably a slightly stranger sight then a boy and girl but the ‘many teens with partners of both sexes lack supportive adults and peers in their lives’ part sounds slightly like that pro-Christian-something is-wrong-with-you-if-your-gay-vibe, doesn’t it?

Maybe it’s just me.

This report goes on further to state that these teens who claim they have had same sexual contact (and really what does this mean?) with both sexes “report higher-than-average rates of dating violence” (back to Dr. Blank’s point), “forced sex and risky sexual behavior…”

I don’t see the connection really other than the fact that the more partners we have the more of a chance there is to meet some kooks! I can’t see knife-wielding lesbians any more than rock-um, sock-um hetero coupling. Having a more shall we say, ‘liberal’ sex life, can’t mean on any level that you’re more violent or violence prone, can it?

I guess what I am trying to say is, be careful what you read and how you read it. Emotive phrases like “teen sex” and “same sex violence” will certainly catch your eye (as it did mine) but what does any of this mean if we explore further?


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