Unfortunately, LGBT youth in America have to face a wide array of issues that don't exactly plague their heterosexual peers. From bullying, to discrimination, LGBT youth in the United States definitely don't have it easy, and a new study from The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law finds even more evidence to support that notion. The study, published on Tuesday, found that LGB kids are more likely to be jailed than their heterosexual peers — and while it may not come as a surprise, it's still a hard and important truth to face in order to fully understand just how far we are from true equality.
According to the study, scholars at the Williams Institute found "that sexual minority youth are incarcerated at disproportionately high rates" and "once they are incarcerated, they are more likely to be held for long periods of time and experience sexual victimization." This includes rape and sexual assault, and was mostly carried out by the victim's peers.
The study relies on a 2012 National Survey of Youth in Custody-2, in which incarcerated youth in America anonymously filled out a survey with questions regarding sexual preferences, experiences in custody, and more. The findings point to important issues on how biases, ideology, and culture all serve to impact minority youth.
One of the studies researchers, Dr. Bianca D.M. Wilson, explained that the findings point to exorbitant amounts of discrimination faced by LGBT youth, although no transgender or nonconforming youth were included in the study, due to "major methodological challenges," according to The Advocate. As Wilson stated:
The rates of sexual victimization of youth in custody by peers is high and lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth report sexual violence by other youth at much higher rates than their heterosexual peers. The findings support calls by policymakers and advocates for the need to pay attention to the unique needs of LGB youth in state systems.
The study also reported some other troubling statistics:
Almost 60 percent of all incarcerated girls are sexual minorities.
Sexual minority youth are 2-3 times more likely to be held in custody for more than a year compared to heterosexual youth.
Gay and bisexual boys were nearly 11 times more likely than straight boys to report having experienced sexual violence by peers.
The Advocate also reported that "social attitudes condoning homophobia could contribute to the likelihood queer youth will be victimized in custody." Especially when staff members aren't properly vetted, and discriminatory attitudes can't be fleshed out, guards and other personnel could be helping to contribute to the poor treatment of LGBT youth.
As upsetting as the new numbers are, it's at least promising that someone is doing something to present hard facts to those who might otherwise disbelieve troubling anecdotes from actual LGBT youth. Hopefully, in time, society will learn to take these kids at their word and do something before it gets this bad.