A study in the US has revealed that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) teens are much more likely to be punished than other adolescents.

According to the study by Yale University researchers, published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Pediatrics, LGB adolescents are about 40 percent more likely to be punished by school authorities, police and the courts than their straight counterparts.

“We found that virtually all types of punishment—including school expulsions, arrests, juvenile convictions, adult convictions and especially police stops—were more frequently meted out to LGB youth,” said lead author Kathryn Himmelstein.

Himmelstein, who now teaches math at a public high school in New York City, said that adolescents who identified themselves as LGB were about 50 percent more likely to be stopped by police than other teenagers.

Teens who reported feelings of attraction to members of the same sex, regardless of their self-identification, were also more likely than other teens to be expelled from school or convicted of crimes as adults.

“Girls who labelled themselves as lesbian or bisexual were especially at risk for unequal treatment,” said Himmelstein.

“They reported experiencing twice as many police stops, arrests and convictions as other girls who had engaged in similar behaviour. Although we did not explore the experiences of transgender youth, anecdotal reports suggest that they are similarly at risk for excessive punishment.”

According to the researchers, the study showed that these disparities in punishments are not explained by differences in the rates of misbehaviour. In fact, the study showed that adolescents who identified themselves as LGB actually engaged in less violence than their peers.

“Our numbers suggest that school officials, police and judges, who should be protecting LGB youth, are instead singling them out for punishment based on their sexual orientation. LGB teens can’t thrive if adults single them out for punishment because of their sexual orientation,” commented Himmelstein.

The study was based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and included about 15,000 middle and high school students who were followed for seven years into early adulthood. The study collected details on participants’ sexuality, as well as misbehaviours, school expulsions and contacts with the criminal justice system.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend