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

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



LGBT health




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


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. 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 [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. 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. 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.


Prevention and Community Health