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LGBTQI Juveniles

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Adolescents face a variety of challenges in their transition to adulthood. A recent study conducted by the Human Rights Campaign indicates that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth face additional challenges over their more tranditional peers that may impact them significantly. These challenges include discrimination, bullying, harassment, and exposure to physical and sexual violence. When the youth surveyed by the Human Rights Campaign were asked to describe the most important problem facing their lives, 26% of LGBT youth cited non-accepting families and 21% named school/bullying problems; while 15% of their non-LGBT peers identified classes/exams/grades and 14% said college/career as their most pressing concerns.

According to research by Garnette, Irvine, Reyes, and Wilber (2011)[1], LGBT youth are twice as likely to become homeless, generally due to rejection by family members and either voluntarily leave or are forced out of their homes. Homelessness exposes LGBT youth to increased risk of victimization, including assault, robbery, and rape. Some of these youth end up committing "survival crimes" such as theft and prostitution which lead them to contact with the criminal justice system. The work by Garnette et al, suggests that LGBT youth are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system.

While the above referenced research addresses LGBT as a group, NIC has chosen to include "Q" for Questioning and "I" for Intersex when referring to this juvenile population in our resources. NIC is committed to assisting correctional agencies in meeting the particular challenges associated with the housing and supervision of LGBTQI juveniles.

Particular topics for consideration include intake procedures, classification, placement and housing, medical and mental health care and treatment, suicide prevention, potential victimization, and staff and offender education. Policy development around these areas is especially important and may assist agencies in reducing negative outcomes for juveniles and legal liability to the agency.

Agencies wishing to examine and improve their response to the management of LGBTQI juvenile offenders may apply for limited, short-term technical assistance to aid their efforts.

[1] Garnette, L., Irvine, A., Reyes, C. and Wilber, S. (2011) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth and the Juvenile Justice System, in Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy, and Practice (eds F. T. Sherman and F. H. Jacobs), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. doi: 10.1002/9781118093375.ch8

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Offenders