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Lesbian, gay, bisexual teens face harsher punishment

A new study published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics finds that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are about 40 percent more likely than other teens to be punished by school authorities, police and the courts.

“Criminal Justice and School Sanctions against Non-heterosexual Youth: A National Longitudinal Study” suggests “an urgent need for all child-serving professionals to reflect on strategies to reduce the criminalization of non-heterosexual youth as they navigate adolescence in an often hostile society.”

The study relied on a sample of over 15,170 youth who were in grades 7 through 12 in the 1994-1995 school year and looked at school expulsions, police stops, juvenile arrests, juvenile convictions, adult arrests and adult convictions seven years later.

Youth reporting a same-sex attraction, a same-sex romantic relationship or who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual had between 1.25 and 3 times greater odds than other youth of facing punishment, even for similar offenses.