Kevin DeYoung explodes some statistics going around about same sex relations among teenagers:
You may have seen this amazing news headline: 1 in 10 Teens Has Had a Same-Sex Partner. The story on AOL Health begins this way: “Nearly one in ten teens has had a same-sex partner — double what previous research has shown, according to a surprising new study. The latest findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, reveal that 9.3 percent of teenagers say they have had at least one partner who is the same sex as they are. That’s about twice as many as indicated in a 2002 study of Massachusetts and Vermont teens showing 5 to 6 percent of teenagers had had same-sex partners. “. . . .
Wow! Who knew? 1 in 10 American teenagers has had a same-sex partner?! That’s really terrible/terrific depending on your point of view. What a revelation!The only problem with this revelation is that it’s false.
If the reporter for AOL had taken time to read just the abstract for the Pediatrics article she may have seen the heading “CONCLUSIONS” in all caps and noted this summary: Of sexually active adolescents, 9.3% reported a same-sex partner, a higher estimate than other published rates.AOL speaks of 1 in 10 teens; the original article concludes 9.3% of sexually active adolescents reported a same-sex partner. There’s a big difference. The survey analyzed data from 17,220 teenagers. Of those, 7,261 or 42% reported having had sex. So according this study 58% of teens are not having sex with anyone and 9.3% of those who have, had same-sex partners, or 3.9% of the total sample.
There are other reasons to be suspicious of the headline. For starters, as AOL reports later in the article: “The new research analyzed data from 17,220 teenagers in New York City who filled out public health surveys” emphasis mine. The whole Pediatric article is not available online so I can’t comment on the ins and outs of the methodology. But I have to believe that a study dealing with “teens in New York City who fill out public health surveys” is going to yield some different results than, say, teens in Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls.
HT: Joe Carter