LGBTQ Student Victimization & School Discipline

Title: LGBTQ Student Victimization and its Relationship to School Discipline and Justice System Involvement

By: Palmer, N.A. & Greytak, E.A.

In: Criminal Justice Review (2017) 

Abstract: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students experience higher rates of school-based victimization than their peers, and this victimization contributes to higher risk of suicide, substance misuse, mental disorder, and unsafe sexual experiences. In addition, these experiences may increase LGBTQ students’ interactions with school authorities and, subsequently, increase their risk of school discipline and involvement in the justice system. Using a sample of 8,215 LGBTQ middle and high school students in the United States surveyed online in 2015, this article explores the relationships between peer victimization and higher school disciplinary and justice system involvement among LGBTQ youth. Results indicate that LGBTQ youth who are victimized at school experience greater school discipline, including disciplinary referrals to school administration, school detention, suspension, and expulsion; and greater involvement in the justice system as a result of school discipline, including arrest, adjudication, and detention in a juvenile or adult facility. Moreover, school staff responses to victimization partially explain this relationship: Students reporting that staff responded to victimization in a discriminatory or unhelpful fashion experienced higher rates of school discipline and justice system involvement than those reporting that staff responded more effectively. Schools must confront pervasive anti-LGBTQ victimization and ineffective or biased responses from school staff to reduce unnecessary disciplinary involvement.