What has changed from 2001 to 2012 for sexual minority youth in New Zealand?

Lucassen, Mathijs F. G.; Clark, Terryann C.; Denny, Simon J.; Fleming, Theresa M.; Rossen, Fiona V.; Sheridan, Janie; Bullen, Pat and Robinson, Elizabeth M. (2015). What has changed from 2001 to 2012 for sexual minority youth in New Zealand? Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 51(4) pp. 410–418.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jpc.12727


Aim: To provide an overview of the health and well-being of sexual minority high school students in New Zealand, investigate differences between sexual minority youth (SMY) and exclusively opposite-sex-attracted youth (EOSAY), and examine changes across survey waves.

Methods: Nationally representative cross-sectional surveys were completed in 2001 (n = 9011), 2007 (n = 8002) and 2012 (n = 8167). Logistic regressions were used to examine the associations between selected outcomes and sexual attraction across survey waves.

Results: SMY accounted for 6% of participants in all three waves, with a greater proportion being ‘out’ in 2012 (P < 0.0001). SMY were more likely to work as volunteers (OR = 1.37) than EOSAY, and the majority of SMY reported good general health, liking school and having caring friends. With the exceptions of binge drinking and being driven dangerously by someone, SMY reported comparatively diminished health and well-being relative to EOSAY. Increasing proportions of SMY had depressive symptoms from 2001 (OR = 2.38) to 2012 (OR = 3.73) compared with EOSAY. There were some differences between the sexes; female SMY were less likely to report positive family relationships (OR = 0.59) and liking school (OR = 0.55), and they were more likely to have been hit (2012 OR = 1.95) than female EOSAY. Male SMY reported especially high rates of suicide attempts (2012 OR = 5.64) compared with male EOSAY.

Conclusions: Health services, schools, communities and families must be more responsive to the needs of SMY to ensure that disparities are addressed.

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