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Gay Teens Punished More Harshly Than Straight Peers: Analysis
Date:12/6/2010

By Julia VanTine
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Gay teens receive harsher punishments at school and in the court system than straight teens who engage in similar behavior, a new Yale University study suggests.

"Our analysis found that, consistently, gay and bisexual youth were at a greater risk of being punished by school and criminal-justice authorities than their straight peers who exhibited the same behaviors," said study leader Kathryn Himmelstein.

Girls, in particular, were singled out for harsher treatment, according to the study, published online Dec. 6 in Pediatrics.

Himmelstein and her colleague, Hannah Bruckner, wanted to know how sexual orientation predicted risk of punishment. Using an ongoing national survey that tracked adolescent health and behaviors, they analyzed the sexual orientation of more than 15,000 young people, relating that to various punishments and controlling for various factors, including race, gender, economic status and misbehavior.

The teens were questioned in 1994-1995 when they were in grades 7 through 12 and again in 2001-2002, when they were 18 to 26 years old.

In the 1994-1995 period, the participants were asked if they'd ever been expelled from school, stopped by the police, arrested before age 18, or if they had pled guilty or been convicted in juvenile court. In the follow-up, they were asked about any arrests, guilty pleas or convictions as an adult.

Of the 15,170 study participants, 13 percent of males and 17 percent of females said they were attracted to someone of the same sex, while 5 percent of males and 6 percent of females said they'd had a same-sex romantic relationship, the study found. Fourteen percent of females and 6 percent of males defined themselves as other than 100-percent heterosexual.

Regardless of their sexual orientation, 76 percent of the participants said they'd committed minor offenses s
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