|LGBT Youth Disproportianately Jailed and Abused
According to an article published recently in the Chicago Windy City Times by
Nina Matti, LGB youth make up twenty percent of all youths in juvenile justice
facilities nationwide - even though only seven to nine percent of all youth identify
This mirrors the results for adult inmates found by the Williams Institute study. LGB girls alone make up nearly forty percent,
again echoing the findings among adults by Dr. Ilan H. Meyer. Of all LGBT youth, 85 percent are of color.
This disproportionate ratio can be found in a study by Movement Advancement Project (MAP), an LGBTQ advocacy group,
Youth First, a national anti-youth incarceration advocacy group, and the Center for American Progress, a policy
advancement think tank, in a report called “Unjust: LGBTQ Youth Incarcerated in the Juvenile Justice System.”
Like adult inmates, LGBT youth are more likely to face mistreatment while incarcerated with a major issue being sexual
assault and misconduct by both peers and members of staff. Sound familiar? These youth are twice as likely as heterosexual
youth to face sexual contact with staff.
One in five LGB boys - twenty percent - and nearly seven percent of LGB girls report sexual assault from their peers. Among
heterosexuals the numbers are 1.9 percent and 4.1 percent respectively. There is no excuse for this mistreatment,
particularly by adult staff.
Due to varying degrees of regulation controls in different facilities, some private facilities operate with no license. What is
more, while some states disallow the placement of youth in adult jail except for a few hours and some never allow it, others
automatically treat 16 year old and older youth as adults.
The consequences of this mistreatment and abuse is devastating. According to the report, “Their experiences... do little to
prepare them for a productive and happy life as adults. Instead, too many LGBTQ youth, both as youth and (later) as adults,
find themselves in a cycle of poverty, homelessness and incarceration.”
Abuse is never part of anyone’s sentence. Sadly, many of these youth are abused even before they are tried.