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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: LGBTQ Youths in the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2014
13 pages
Based on a literature review, this paper reports on issues related to risk and protective factors for delinquency among LGBTQ youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning sexuality), their prevalence in the juvenile justice system, outcome evidence for programs that serve these youth, and recommendations for reforming juvenile justice policies and practices toward them.
First, definitions are provided for "sexual orientation," "questioning," "gender identity," and "transgender." This is followed by a review of research on the prevalence of LGBTQ youths in the juvenile justice system. Available research indicates that LGBT youths compose 5-7 percent of the Nation's youth population, but compose 13-15 percent of youth currently in the juvenile justice system (Hunt and Moodie-Mills, 2012; Majd, Marksamer, and Reyes, 2009). Distinctive risk and protective factors regarding delinquent behavior among LGBTQ youth are then discussed based on a research review. Regarding outcome evidence for programs that target LGBTQ youth, there are only a few programs that target their specific needs; and even fewer evaluations have examined the effectiveness of such efforts. The features and findings of these evaluations are discussed. Overall, the research on services and treatment for LGBTQ youth, including adaptations of evidence-based programs, is still being developed. The reports that have provided guidance and recommendations for policymakers and practitioners who work with these youth in the juvenile justice system have focused on changing juvenile justice policies and practices to ensure equitable treatment and effective responses for them. Recommendations regarding LGBTQ youth are outlined from the National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged With Status Offenses, which were developed by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (2013). Other publications that have focused on addressing the needs of LGBTQ youth in the justice system are also reviewed. 27 references

Date Published: August 1, 2014