The findings of a Yale University study show a correlation between adolescent sexuality and the frequency of punishment. The study found that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adolescents are 40 percent more likely than heterosexual adolescents to be punished by school authorities, police and the courts, according to a recent article in “ScienceDaily.”

The study, which will be published in the journal “Pediatrics” in January 2011, includes the experiences of 15,000 middle and high school students over a seven-year period. Subjects were surveyed about their sexuality and about how often they engaged in different degrees of “misbehavior.” From there, the frequency of punishment was measured, specifically how often behavior resulted in school expulsion, police stops, juvenile arrest, juvenile conviction, adult arrest and adult conviction, according to the study’s abstract.

The abstract concludes that “Nonheterosexual youth suffer disproportionate educational and criminal-justice punishments that are not explained by greater engagement in illegal or transgressive behaviors,” and adds that “Understanding and addressing these disparities might reduce school expulsions, arrests, and incarceration and their dire social and health consequences.”

According to “Science Daily,” the study’s lead author, Kathryn Himmelstein, said that LGB adolescents were 50 percent more likely to be stopped by the police. Further, adolescents who reported being attracted to members of the same sex – even if they did not label themselves as LGB – “were more likely than other teens to be expelled from school or convicted of crimes as adults.”

What’s more, lesbian or bisexual female teens seem to get the brunt of it, reporting “twice as many police stops, arrests and convictions as other girls who engaged in similar behavior,” Himmelstein said. And it turns out that the LGB adolescents studied engaged in fewer violent activities than the heterosexual adolescents studied.

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

About The Author

Shannon O'Neill is a senior editor at Bombshell.

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