Exploring Bias-Based Bullying and Intersecting Social Positions as Correlates of Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Adolescents

Samantha E. Lawrence, Amy L. Gower, Hana May Eadeh, Chris Cardona-Correa, De'Shay Thomas, Malavika Suresh, Ana María del Río-González, Marla E. Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The current study extends the limited body of intersectional research on adolescents’ sexual health by examining experiences of bias-based bullying and multiple intersecting social positions associated with engagement in sexual risk behaviors. Methods: Participants were 14,968 sexually active 9th and 11th grade students surveyed as part of the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey (15% lesbian/gay/bisexual/queer/pansexual/questioning [LGBQ] and/or transgender/ gender diverse [TGD] or gender questioning). Exhaustive Chi-square Automatic Interaction Detection analysis was used to identify experiences (i.e., bias-based bullying victimization) and intersecting social positions (i.e., sexual orientation identity; gender identity/modality; race/ethnicity; physical disabilities/chronic illness; mental health/behavioral/emotional problems) associated with the highest prevalence of three sexual risk behaviors. Results: Overall, 18% of adolescents reported 3+ sex partners in the last year, 14% reported drug/alcohol use before last sex, and 36% reported not discussing protection from sexually transmitted infections with new sexual partners. Adolescents with 2+ marginalized social positions, some of whom also experienced bias-based bullying, were part of 53% of the highest prevalence risk groups. For example, 42% of Multiracial or Latina/x/o gender questioning adolescents who identified as LGBQ reported 3+ sex partners in the last year—twice the sample average. Adolescents who were Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Latina/x/o, Multiracial, TGD, or gender questioning were in the highest prevalence nodes across all outcomes. Conclusion: Adolescents with multiple marginalized social positions and who experience bias-based bullying engage in high-risk sexual behaviors at higher-than-average rates. Findings underscore the importance of addressing intersecting experiences of stigma to reduce high-risk sex behaviors and promote health equity among adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)608-616
Number of pages9
JournalLGBT Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


  • disability
  • intersectionality
  • sexual orientation and gender diversity
  • sexual risk behaviors
  • stigma
  • youth of color

Cite this