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SCYAP Blog

Welcome to Our Blog

Working with LGBTQI Youth

Jan 30

Written by:
1/30/2015 2:10 PM  RssIcon


Many young people in the foster care system are lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI). Chances are if you are a foster parent, caseworker, advocate, or agency staff member,you have either worked directly with a LGBT youth or know someone who has.These youth are constantly facing family rejection, homelessness, harassment,and are too often unfairly criminalized by the juvenile justice system.

Below you will find a compilation of LGBTQI Youth in Justice Systems Facts created by Alex Karydi who is a psychologist and LGBTQI youth coordinator at the Department of Juvenile Justice. She outlines the risk factors that increase the likelihood of juvenile justice contact for LGBT youth and documented threats that LGBT youth experience once they enter the juvenile justice system. Our hope is that with education and training on LGBTQI issues, we will be better equipped to provide the best care possible to youth experiencing these challenges.

By Alex Karydi, Ph.D., DJJ Psychologist III and LGBTQI Youth Coordinator

·   Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,Queer/Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) and gender nonconforming youth are significantly over-represented in the juvenile justice system.

·   Approximately 300,000 LGBT1 youth are arrested and/or detained each year, of which more than 60% are Black(African American or of African Decent) or Latino.

·   Though LGBT youth represent just 5% to 7% of the nation’s overall youth population, they compose 13% to 15% of those currently in the juvenile justice system.

·   High rates of involvement in the juvenile justice system are often a result of LGBT youth abandonment by their families and communities, and victimization in their schools.

·   LGBT youth are at a higher risk of entering the school-to-prison pipeline.


Some risk factors that increase the likelihood of juvenile justice contact for LGBT youth include:

·   Homelessness and runaway status - youth are kicked out or flee domestic abuse by family members who are unable to accept the youth’s gender identity or sexual orientation;

·   Involvement in survival crimes - theft, drugs, or prostitution;

·   Violence and harassment in school -  LGBT youth tend to skip classes, perform worse, and have lower aspirations for themselves;

·   Social isolation - from the family, extended family networks, friends, and the wider community, including some civic institutions;

·   Minority stress - high rates of depression,chronic stress, and substance abuse due to family and societal rejection.

 

LGBT youth are also highly vulnerable once they enter the juvenile justice system. A few of the documented threats that LGBT youth face are:

·   Court and law enforcement officials’ lack of understanding about sexual orientation and gender identity issues;

·   Verbal, physical, and sexual abuse by staff and fellow residents in court-ordered placements;

·   Unnecessary use of isolation and segregation in confinement;

·   Inappropriate sexual offense charges arising from consensual same-sex conduct.



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