Eric Hayes, Communications & Development Coordinator
People often find the link between teen pregnancy and LGBTQ people to be bewildering. How does a teen who identifies as a lesbian end up pregnant anyways? How does a gay teen end up fathering a child? Aren’t these rare occurrences?
We don’t know the exact circumstances. We DO know, however, that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found sexual minority youth to be at an increased risk for teen pregnancy. We also know that a recent study out of New York found teen girls who identify as bisexual to be five times more likely to report having been pregnant in their lives than their heterosexual counterparts. Boys who identify as gay were four times more likely to have impregnated a girl.
Here’s a list of other things we know:
- Since 2010 when the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program was introduced by the federal government the US rate of teen pregnancy has dropped by 41%.
- The rate of teen births in Ohio and Cuyahoga County are higher than the national average.
- Children born to teen mothers are at an increased risk for physical and mental illness, as well as being more like to experience a wide variety of social disadvantages. For instance, children of teen parents are more likely to become teen parents.
- The state of Ohio has no standards for health education, which leaves teenagers across the state in a situation where they often receive little to no sexual education. The sexual education they do receive is often incomplete or inaccurate, and it is very rare for sex education to include any information about LGBTQ people.
In 2015, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health was awarded a 5-year teen pregnancy prevention grant to provide comprehensive, evidence-based sexual education to teens throughout the county in both school and community settings. Since this grant was first received, the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland has been involved with the planning and implementation of the program. The Center spent a year reviewing and adapting curriculums for LGBTQ inclusivity and piloted a comprehensive, community-based, LGBTQ-inclusive program called Prevention Warriors. Since then, the Center has facilitated 8 Prevention Warriors groups and reached over 100 youth. County-wide over 2,500 youth have received programming. A reproductive and sexual health website 216Teens.org was created specifically for teens to provide information about sex, relationships, LGBTQ issues, and where they can access teen-friendly resources in the county.
Despite the successful outcomes of TPP thus far, in the budget proposed by the Trump Administration Cuyahoga County will lose almost 2 million dollars in grant funding for teen pregnancy prevention in the middle of the grant period. The Center and LGBTQ teens in Cuyahoga County will lose access to the only program created specifically for the needs of local LGBTQ youth. Multiple school districts will lose access to evidence-based, comprehensive sex education.
Call your Representative today and make sure they know about the value of TPP. Talking points are available from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Check out these cool advocacy tips from the Collaborative for Comprehensive School-Age Health. Support youth programming at the Center.