GLBT Study: Gay, Lesbian Kids Singled Out for Punishment

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(istockphoto)

(CBS) When it comes to bullying gay teens, narrow-minded classmates may not be the only offenders.

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 new study by scientists at Yale University.

"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," lead author Kathryn Himmelstein, who initiated the study while she was a Yale undergraduate, said in a written statement.

Lesbian and bisexual girls were especially at risk for unequal treatment, Himmelstein said. "They reported experiencing twice as many police stops, arrests and convictions as other girls who had engaged in similar behavior," she said in the statement.

Could it be that LGB are punished more because they are more prone to misbehavior? Not likely, says Himmelstein, who is now a public school teacher in New York CIty. The study showed that disparities in punishment could not be explained by differences in the rates of misbehavior. In fact, it showed that LGB teens are less likely than their peers to engage in violent behavior.

To conduct the study, researchers followed about 15,000 middle and high school students for seven years. In addition to details on the teens' sexuality, the study collected information about how frequently they engaged in misbehaviors ranging from lying to their parents to using a weapon.

The study was published in the January 2001 issue of Pediatrics.


  • David W Freeman

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