A publication I subscribe to because of my line of work (working with high-risk youth and juvenile offenders) led me to a study published by Pediatrics – which is the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  It has an incredibly *fascinating* title – “Criminal Justice and School Sanctions Against Nonheterosexual Youth: A Longitudinal Study.”

I know, I can sense your eyes glazing over.

Let  me get to the gist of what they are saying – homosexual youth, in particular, female homosexual youth receive a disproportionate amount of sanctions by juvenile courts and schools for that they say are “that are not explained by greater engagement in illegal or transgressive behaviors.”

You can read the whole report yourself below:

 

One question that came to mind is how useful is a report in 2010 (published on December 6, 2010) that was based off of research done on 7th-12th grade students in 1994-1995 and a follow-up done in 2001-2002 (with 18-26 year olds – only about 75% of the original survey participated)?

I also question the objective of the study:

Nonheterosexual adolescents are vulnerable to health risks including addiction, bullying, and familial abuse. We examined whether they also suffer disproportionate school and criminal-justice sanctions.

All adolescents, from my perspective of almost 20 years of experience working with youth, are vulnerable to addiction, bullying and familial abuse.  I find it interesting that they don’t list an obvious health risk for “non-heterosexual” (I guess saying “gay” or “homosexual” won’t do.  The lesbians, bisexuals and “transgendered” youth would feel slighted) – sexually transmitted diseases.  Why do that when you can portray them as a victim?  That would ruin the narrative.

Also when you start off with the presumption that they may be disproportionate sanctions then it isn’t hard to find the statistics to say as much.  After all Mark Twain notes there are three kinds of lies: “Lies, damned lies and statistics.”

I am not going to question their numbers.  What I wonder is how do they determine, especially in the criminal justice realm, that the “disproportionate sanctions” are not “are not explained by greater engagement in illegal or transgressive behaviors.”  For starters, juvenile facilities (from my experience working with juvenile offenders) will not release this information due to confidentiality concerns.  Secondly at least with the facility I work most directly with they don’t ask a youth’s “sexual orientation” and in most cases would be deemed irrelevant.  Third, since they didn’t get this information from facilities or juvenile court – that means it is based off of a youth’s experience and perception.

Do I have to tell you that any youth who is being adjudicated looks at the situation differently than you or I would.  Since juvenile records are confidential the researchers are getting this information directly from the youth.

It isn’t reliable and yet they present this study as thought major changes need to happen within the juvenile justice and school settings based on youth who went through those systems 15 years ago.  The timing and the agenda are suspect, and I believe this study is much to do about nothing.  Especially when schools and juvenile facilities are hypersensitive these issues… so they need to be more so?

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