Adolescent lesbians and bisexuals are less likely to use passenger safety belts than their heterosexual peers, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health Research Fellow Sari Reisner. Drawing from data gathered in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey which includes a measure of sexual orientation identity, the researchers found that sexual minority youth had increased odds of reporting seatbelt nonuse compared to heterosexual youth (48% higher for male bisexuals, 85% for lesbians, 46% for female bisexuals, and 51% for female youth unsure of their sexuality).

The study Disparities in safety belt use by sexual orientation identity among US high school students appeared in the February 2014 American Journal of Public Health.

“Safety belt nonuse among sexual minorities is an unexplored research area,” Reisner said in a Fenway Institute release posted on the Fenway Institute website on April 8, 2014. “There are studies that document disparities in safety belt nonuse in youth by other social determinants—for example, by race/ethnicity—but these studies do not consider sexual orientation. This is the first study, to our knowledge, that has been able to say that sexual minority adolescents are at-risk.”

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