Using a representative national sample (N = 20,745), this article explores health and mental health needs, service use, and barriers to services among sexual minority youths (SMYs) and heterosexual peers. SMYs were defined by ever having a same-sex romantic attraction or having a recent same-sex romantic relationship or sexual partner. SMYs accounted for 7.5 percent of the sample. Data were analyzed to ascertain prevalence of risks and explore group differences. Compared with peers, SMY self-reports indicated higher prevalence rates on all indicators of health and mental health need. SMYs reported more sexual activity, more sexually transmitted disease diagnoses, a higher perceived risk for HIV/AIDS, and more forgone medical care than peers.Also compared with peers, SMYs reported higher levels of anxiety depression, suicidality, and physical and sexual victimization and higher rates of unmet mental health need. SMYs also reported greater concerns about confidentiality and were less likely to use school-based services.The majority of SMYs reported same-sex attraction only. Social work and other helping professionals should incorporate same-sex attraction questions into assessment protocols to target services for this population. School- and office-based providers must consider whether their services are welcoming and offer sufficient assurances of confidentiality to facilitate access by SMYs.
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