Send to

Choose Destination
J Adolesc Health. 2013 Jun;52(6):773-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.11.011. Epub 2013 Jan 27.

Homelessness experiences, sexual orientation, and sexual risk taking among high school students in Los Angeles.

Author information

School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90015, USA.



Prior studies reported homeless adolescents engage in more sexual risk than their housed peers. However, these comparisons are typically made post hoc by comparing homeless adolescent community-based samples with high school probability samples. This study uses a random sample of high school students to examine homelessness experiences and sexual risk behaviors.


A supplemental survey to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey containing questions regarding homelessness and sexual health was administered to Los Angeles high school students (N = 1,839). Multivariate logistic regressions assessed the associations between demographics, past year homelessness experiences (i.e., place of nighttime residence), and being sexually active and condom use at last intercourse.


Homelessness experiences consisted of staying in a shelter (10.4%), a public place (10.1%), and with a stranger (5.6%). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ), younger, and male adolescents were more likely to experience homelessness. LGBTQ adolescents were also more likely to report staying with a stranger and less likely to report staying in a shelter. Compared to adolescents who stayed in shelters, adolescents who stayed with strangers and in public places were more likely to engage in unprotected sex at last intercourse.


Adolescents who report sexual activity and sexual risk taking are more likely to report homelessness experiences. With regard to sexual health, staying with strangers could be a particularly risky form of homelessness; LGBTQ and black adolescents are more likely to experience this form of homelessness. Efforts to reduce homelessness and sexual risk-taking need to recognize the specific vulnerabilities faced by these populations.

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center