Lesbian, gay and bisexual teens singled out for punishment

December 06, 2010

Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adolescents are about 40 percent more likely than other teens to be punished by school authorities, police and the courts, according to a study by Yale University researchers. Published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Pediatrics, the study is the first to document excessive punishment of LGB youth nationwide.

"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, who initiated the study while she was a Yale undergraduate. The research was supervised by Hannah Brueckner, professor of sociology and co-director of the Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course at Yale.

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, including feelings of sexual attraction, sexual relationships and self-labeling as LGB. Add Health also surveyed participants about how frequently they engaged in a variety of misbehaviors, ranging in severity from lying to parents, to using a weapon. Add Health included detailed questions about school expulsions and contacts with the criminal justice system.

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 more likely than other teens to be expelled from school or convicted of crimes as adults.

"Girls who labeled 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 behavior. Although we did not explore the experiences of transgender youth, anecdotal reports suggest that they are similarly at risk for excessive punishment."

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

"The painful, even lethal bullying that LGB youth suffer at the hands of their peers has been highlighted by recent tragic events," Himmelstein notes. "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."

Brueckner added, "The study provides the first and only national estimates for over-representation of LGB youth in the criminal justice system. We simply did not have any good numbers on this before. We need more research on the processes that lead to this to help us identify ways to make our institutions more equitable with respect to policing all youth, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation."
-end-
Citation: Pediatrics Vol. 127, 1 (January 1, 2011)

Yale University

Related Punishment Articles from Brightsurf:

Reward and punishment take similar paths in the mouse brain
One brain pathway, originating from the striosome, regulates the motivations that influence behavior.

Revenge is more enjoyable than forgiveness -- at least in stories
When it comes to entertainment, people enjoy seeing bad guys get their punishment more than seeing them be forgiven, a new study reveals.

How the brain decides to punish or not
Oksana Zinchenko, Research Fellow at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, HSE University, has conducted meta-analysis of 17 articles to find out which areas of the brain are involved decision-making for rendering social punishment.

Visible punishment institutions are key in promoting large-scale cooperation: Study
New international research by Monash University has found that one way to overcome social dilemmas is through visible prosocial punishment -- the existence of collective institutions that punish individuals who don't cooperate.

Harsh punishment, maltreatment in childhood associated with adult antisocial behavior
Harsh physical punishment (pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting), maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, physical neglect and exposure to intimate partner violence) and a combination of the two during childhood were all associated with antisocial behaviors in adulthood among men and women.

How the brain hears and fears
What does the brain do when things go bump in the night?

Youth violence lower in countries with complete ban on corporal punishment
A study published today in the BMJ Open shows that in countries where there is a complete ban on all corporal punishment of children there is less fighting among young people.

National bans on slapping children linked to less youth violence
National bans on parents slapping or spanking their children to punish them for bad behaviour are linked to lower rates of youth violence, reveals an international study published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Male vervet monkeys use punishment and coercion to de-escalate costly intergroup fights
Male vervet monkeys attack members of their own group to prevent them from escalating intergroup encounters into high-risk fights, or to de-escalate ongoing intergroup fights.

Eliminating injustice imposed by the death penalty
The Black Lives Matter movement has called for the abolition of capital punishment in response to what it calls 'the war against Black people' and 'Black communities.' This article defends the two central contentions in the movement's abolitionist stance: first, that US capital punishment practices represent a wrong to black communities, and second, that the most defensible remedy for this wrong is the abolition of the death penalty.

Read More: Punishment News and Punishment Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.