Pediatrics journal recently released a study analyzing whether homosexual adolescents are more likely than their straight counterparts to be punished by schools and the justice system.
In an analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, teenagers attracted to people of the same sex were 41 percent more likely to be expelled from school, and 42 percent more likely to be convicted of a crime as an adult.
The study found that the differences between homosexual students being punished versus their heterosexual peers were not related to a greater involvement in deviant behavior.
The research also found that gay and lesbian teenagers were 38 percent more likely to be stopped by the police, compared with heterosexual teenagers, and 53 percent more likely if they identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Since Rutgers' student Tyler Clementi committed suicide after being bullied by his roommate in September, peer bullying has been a major focus in the media. Kathryn Himmelstein, the study's author, said that her research shows the real extent of bias and intimidation that gay teens face. "It’s not just kids who are bullying," she said. "Adults are stacking the deck."
The issue does have the government's attention. In October, the U.S. Department of Education threatened the loss of funding to schools for failing to address bullying of gay students under gender-discrimination laws.
The conclusions from the study:
Our findings indicate that nonheterosexual adolescents suffer disproportionate punishments by schools and the criminal-justice system, which implicates not only schools, police, and courts but also other youth-serving health and welfare systems that often fail to meet the needs of nonheterosexual adolescents. Thus, our results suggest an urgent need for all childserving professionals to reflect on strategies to reduce the criminalization of nonheterosexual youth as they navigate adolescence in an often hostile society.
Check out the study here.