For more information about ways to protect LGBTQ and GNC youth, check out the wonderful resources provided by Equality Texas.
Nationwide, lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth—as well as gender non-conforming youth (GNC)—are more likely to face harassment, harsh punishments, and contact with school police than non-LGBTQ and cisgender youth. This is despite research that shows they do not misbehave at higher rates.
The use of school suspensions, court referrals, and school expulsions as a form of school discipline systematically streamlines LGBTQ and GNC students out of learning environments and into criminalized spaces, like courts and correctional facilities. Even though these policies negatively impact all students, they particularly harm groups of students along the lines of sexual orientation and gender identity. Punitive school punishments, while harmful themselves, also exacerbate issues faced by many LGBTQ and GNC youth, including social isolation and family instability.
LGBTQ and GNC students can be impacted by class removals and police contact at unequal, or disproportionally high rates. Research shows that gay and transgender youth are up to three times more likely to experience harsher punishments than their peers. And, when compared to heterosexual girls, non-heterosexual girls were two times more likely to be stopped by police, three times more likely to be arrested before the age of 18, and three times more likely to receive a juvenile conviction.
Furthermore, LGBTQ and GNC students of color are even more negatively impacted by punitive discipline policies and practices because they are targeted based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or race. Expanding research about the treatment of LGBTQ and GNC students and addressing the harmful policies are imperative steps to take in order to create a safe learning environment for all students.