Why Are So Many Queer Girls in Juvie?
The findings come out of years of research done by Angela Irvine and Aisha Canfield for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (both now work at Impact Justice). For this particular statistic, they anonymously surveyed 1,400 girls in juvenile jurisdictions around the country. Irvine and Canfield have surveyed thousands of kids and detention officers. Among both boys and girls, roughly 15 percent of juvenile incarcerees identify as LGBT, while the slice of LGBT youth in the general public is estimated to be around 7 percent.
It turns out that LGBT girls are also overrepresented in the child welfare system, which often leads to running away, which leads to homelessness and, in some cases, prostitution. As it is, says Canfield, most end up in juvie for committing so-called survival crimes — petty theft and breaking and entering. LGBT of both sexes are also three times more likely to receive disproportionately harsh consequences at school, while also being the target of harassment. Perhaps surprisingly, LGBT girls are more likely to get in trouble for fighting; for boys, it’s disruptive behaviors in the classroom. “It’s not difficult to put a narrative together as to how they end up here,” Canfield says.