Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth represent almost a quarter of all youth in the juvenile justice system, even though they are estimated to only compose less than 10 percent of the total U.S. youth population. A growing body of research suggests that LGBTQ+ youths’ system involvement is often the result of experiences of discrimination and social rejection of their sexual and/or gender identity. As such, it is essential for probation officers to avoid perpetuating the conditions within juvenile justice care that may inhibit positive outcomes for LGBTQ+ youth. Instead, more opportunities to apply strength-based approaches that affirm young people’s identities and a greater understanding of the challenges that LGBTQ+ youth face should be developed. Such efforts can promote better outcomes, including a reduction in recidivism rates.
Researchers note that discrimination and harassment can result in LGBTQ+ youth bein