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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 25, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Orientation, behavior and identity can intersect multi-dimensionally

Thank you to The Ithacan for your interest and coverage of important sexual health information and your inclusion of LGBT people in your article in the Feb. 9 issue. I am writing to offer a little clarification and a citation as one example about how some LGBT people’s lives may be impacted by alcohol and drug use, and ways this may impact sexuality

The 2001 Susan Blake study, “Preventing sexual risk behaviors among gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents: The benefits of gay-sensitive HIV instruction in schools,” found sexually active LGBT youth have more sexual partners than their heterosexual peers and found alcohol use before their last sexual encounter. Yet this same study found that youth in schools with LGBT-inclusive sexual health classroom curricula reported fewer sexual partners and less substance than did LGBT youths in other schools

This, and a variety of additional research, indicate that themes related to sexuality, drug and alcohol use are often rooted in social stigma and its effects, and in the lack of sexual health information and instruction that take into account the unique needs of LGBT people — not because of one’s LGBT status

Additionally, I’d like to offer a brief note on the important differences between orientation (to whom one is attracted), behavior (what one does), and identity (the names/labels one chooses to identify oneself). Orientation, behavior and identity can intersect in complex and multidimensional ways for each individual. The Ithacan article did not seem to delve into these, and key ways they may serve to further inform The Ithacan’s survey questions, results and implications

On campus at the LGBT Center on the lower level of the Hammond Health Center, resources and referrals are available to any student seeking support or information. Thank you again for your important coverage.