Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 1547–1561

Disproportionality and Disparities among Sexual Minority Youth in Custody

  • Bianca D. M. Wilson
  • Sid P. Jordan
  • Ilan H. Meyer
  • Andrew R. Flores
  • Lara Stemple
  • Jody L. Herman
Empirical Research

DOI: 10.1007/s10964-017-0632-5

Cite this article as:
Wilson, B.D.M., Jordan, S.P., Meyer, I.H. et al. J Youth Adolescence (2017) 46: 1547. doi:10.1007/s10964-017-0632-5


Research indicates that sexual minority youth are disproportionately criminalized in the U.S. and subjected to abusive treatment while in correctional facilities. However, the scope and extent of disparities based on sexual orientation remains largely overlooked in the juvenile justice literature. This study, based on a nationally representative federal agency survey conducted in 2012 (N = 8785; 9.9% girls), reveals that 39.4% of girls and 3.2% of boys in juvenile correctional facilities identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. These youth, particularly gay and bisexual boys, report higher rates of sexual victimization compared to their heterosexual peers. Sexual minority youth, defined as both lesbian, gay, and bisexual identified youth as well as youth who identified as straight and reported some same-sex attraction, were also 2–3 times more likely than heterosexual youth to report prior episodes of detention lasting a year or more. Implications for future research and public policy are discussed.


Juvenile justice Detention Sexual minorities Sexual violence 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Social Welfare DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Mills College, Government ProgramOaklandUSA

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