Monday, February 3, 2014

Steroid Use Among Gay & Bisexual Teen Boys

February 3, 2014 CBS Washington reports:
CHICAGO — Gay and bisexual teen boys use illicit steroids at a rate almost six times higher than do straight kids, a “dramatic disparity” that points up a need to reach out to this group, researchers say.
Reasons for the differences are unclear. The study authors said it’s possible gay and bi boys feel more pressure to achieve a bulked-up “ideal” male physique, or that they think muscle-building steroids will help them fend off bullies.
Overall, 21 percent of gay or bisexual boys said they had ever used steroids, versus 4 percent of straight boys. The difference was similar among those who reported moderate use — taking steroid pills or injections up to 40 times: 8 percent of gay or bi teens reported that amount, versus less than 2 percent of straight boys. The heaviest use — 40 or more times — was reported by 4 percent of gays or bi boys, compared with less than 1 percent of straight teens.
Along with the widespread evidence of disproportionate substance abuse among homosexuals, this should raise questions as to whether alternate sexual orientation might be a sign of damage.  Certainly, kids growing up in the period 2005 through 2007 (when this study was completed) are not growing up in a country where
there is widespread disapproval of their homosexuality.


  1. "Certainly...there is widespread disapproval of their homosexuality."

    Yeah, actually there is.

  2. A problem with this sort of survey based study is that sometimes people (perhaps especially teenage boys) don't take the survey seriously and give nonsense responses. This can really throw off the results if you aren't careful.

  3. It's not nearly as bad as it once was -- some folk do have supportive parents, and more at least have ones who do nothing worse than strongly imply their kids should be straight -- but at least if we trust these sort of studies, there's pretty strong evidence (pdf warning) that LGBT teenagers are more likely use certain emergency services, and to cite familial disapproval or outright abuse as the need for those emergency services, even today. Societal approval doesn't prevent individual disapproval.

    ((There are some reasons to be a bit suspicious of these studies, though, including the one about drug use: there are some serious methodological issues underlying some of the best-known studies in ways that overstate the prevalence of homosexuality and in ways that overestimate the prevalence of bad behaviors among gay youths.))

    At a deeper level, there's a big difference between expressed and revealed preferences. As a society we say that we tolerate the heck out of things, and often make a big show out of proverbially stringing up people who don't make the right motions or celebrate loud enough. Yet the actual actions are dramatically different.

    You'll point out how hard it is to get newsreporting or recognition of actual child abusers like Walter Williams, or the monsters at Horace Mann. Saying it, even for a specific case, is taboo. But if you're actually a gay male -- and especially an out one -- there are a lot of cautionary tales with the moral "you will be assumed a predator". Likewise, the idea of calling a kid an unpleasant slur is completely intolerable, except it's something that's actually tolerated pretty often in middle or high schools. Again, it's a long way from how things used to be, or are in some other countries. Folk don't get hanged, and rumor won't get you fired. But it's hard to call it a lack of disapproval, or expect it doesn't change behavior.

  4. Actually the country is evenly split on the question of homosexuality.

    Disapproval of homosexuals is another matter. I don't have any polls in front of me, but casual observation suggests that most people who think homosexuality to be messed up in the head do not mistreat homosexuals. Westboro Baptist was spreading the "God hates fags" message years before it started picketing war veterans' funerals, and even back then it never attracted sympathy beyond an incredibly tiny fringe. Among people who oppose homosexuality, the Phil Robertsons far outnumber the Fred Phelpses.

  5. Josh makes an interesting point about the difference between individual disapproval and societal disapproval. About ten years ago, there was a very interesting article in one of the East Coast mainstream magazines about how many very liberal parents who thought homosexuality was just peachy keen suddenly changed their attitude when it was their own kid.

    Concerning unpleasant slurs in middle school and high school: you don't have to be gay to have that experience! What a barbarous age that is.

    Still, I found it interesting that when my son was in high school, there were several kids who were out, loud, and proud, and obviously were not even slightly concerned about the reaction that they would get -- and this is in Idaho.

    When my daughter was in middle school in California, one very effeminate boy (from the type of home that the Freudians used to assume was the cause: weak father, strong, domineering mother) she knew was being strongly, strongly encouraged by teachers to come out of the closet to show how liberal they were. The last contact she had with this kid, he was in high school, and providing anonymous oral services in the college restrooms. How proud those teachers could now be!