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Schools, Cops Single Out, Punish Gay Youth

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on December 13, 2010 5:51 AM

Bullying, whether perpetrated in the real or cyber world, has received a tremendous amount of publicity of late. Now, a new study has found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens are becoming the target of another type of bullying: school and criminal punishment.

In a study conducted by Yale University, researchers found that gay youth are more likely to be singled out for punishment by school officials and police. Specifically, gay, lesbian and bisexual students are 40% more likely to get expelled from school and arrested by the police than their heterosexual counterparts, the Hartford Courant reports.

Police stops were the most out of balance when it came to comparing the various groups, with an almost 50% higher chance that a homosexual teen would be stopped.

The reasons for the increase in punishments for gay youth are mostly conjecture. One conclusion that is perhaps the most alarming is that the punishments did not correlate with the level of behavior exhibited by the young offender.

The study followed 15,000 middle school and high school youths for seven years, keeping track of individual sexuality as well as encounters with the criminal justice system and school-related discipline, according to the Hartford Courant.

This study is especially upsetting in the wake of the recent suicide by Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi after his roommate essentially "outed" him online. Law makers have begun targeting cyberbullying with new laws. The challenge faced by police and school officials will be look at how they punish gay youth.

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