So much for the myth constantly being paraded by the right that gay and lesbian teens kill themselves at a higher rate because they are innately unhappy with their supposed choice of being gay or lesbian. A new study from Yale’s “The Office Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics” proves society punishes them simply for being who they are.
Gay and lesbian teens in the United States are about 40 percent more likely than their straight peers to be punished by schools, police and the courts, according to a study published Monday, which finds that girls are especially at risk for unequal treatment.
The study, is a welcomed one, when there has been such a focus on why gay teens tend to commit suicide at higher rates:
The study brings punishment differences for gay teens into focus at a time when public concern about torment and bullying is heightened. In September, an 18-year-old Rutgers University student jumped off a bridge to his death after his gay sexual encounter was allegedly filmed by a roommate on a webcam and announced on Twitter.
Andrew Barnett, executive director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League, in Washington, says it best:
“This is a symptom of school administrators, teachers, court officials, police officers – anyone who works with youth – not necessarily being equipped to handle the challenges” faced by the teens in their care, he said. “It’s much easier to punish the youth than to work with them and figure out why they may keep getting in fights and what is leading to this behavior.”
My answer why gay and lesbian kids get picked on more than straight kids? Because they can. Therefore, the adults in the LGBT community, who know all too well how this behavior plays out for LGBT teens need to be their advocates every chance we get. We are their only hope, and in the words of Harvey Milk, “We’ve got to give them hope.”