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?

2 comments
  1. The implication that the report is suspect because of its timing is wholly without merit. (How do I say this without sounding patronizing…) You see in science there is a process called peer review. This is where the data is submitted to a scientific publication (which, believe or not, receive more than one submission at a time) to be reviewed by actual scientists that check the methodology and examine the language for complete accuracy (this is probably why the term “nonhetrosexual” was adopted; it best describes and encompasses children who are (gasp) not heterosexual.). As you can imagine, the people who submit one study don’t sit around on their hands waiting for the mailman and so new projects are done in the meantime. Also, a 75% follow up is more than sufficient for the purposes of this paper.

    Can’t argue with your conclusions (pure opinion and innuendo as it is) but you’re off base for questioning the timing of the release of a report simply because you don’t like the gay.

    1. Fair enough, thanks for your comment. I do understand peer review, I don’t believe your argument necessarily applies in this case though. The surveys were done, and then the authors of the report from what I understand came along later to analyze it.

      Also, I’ve worked with numerous kids over the course of 20 years who have struggled with homosexuality. I don’t “not like the gay.” I don’t like the behavior.

      Regardless, my conclusions are not based on that (wouldn’t that be pure opinion and innuendo on your part), it is based on my knowledge of the juvenile justice system. Maybe in some parts of the country this is true, but from my experience in Iowa and in Indiana this isn’t the case – because it isn’t a question that is asked of youth. And confidentiality would prohibit researchers from getting that type of information out of those in the system.

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