Support the Café

Search our Site

Standing up for gay teens

Standing up for gay teens

In his column at the Daily Beast, Gene Robinson highlights the need for compassionate religious people to seek justice, given systems that perpetuate the criminalization of LGBT individuals-especially youth-and those living with HIV:

If religious people and religious institutions are to respond to God’s call for compassion and justice, then we need to address societal systems that target and victimize the vulnerable in the first place.

Nowhere is this need more evident than in the systematic criminalization of LGBT people (especially LGBT youth) and people living with HIV infection. A startling and disturbing new report, “A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living with HIV,” outlines the frightening world facing this vulnerable population. This confluence of societal systems—policing and law enforcement, incarceration, immigration laws, and the increasing criminalization of youth and people living with HIV—are working in tandem to make already-difficult lives more burdensome and dangerous.

LGBT youth are disproportionately susceptible to being thrown out of their homes and forced to fend for themselves at a young age, often “triggering a lifetime of economic and social instability. … Family rejection and homelessness are top predictors that a young person will come in contact with the juvenile justice system because of police targeting of homeless and low-income communities and people engaged in survival economies—such as drug sales, sex work, and other criminalized activity—to quite literally survive. Schools can also play a critical role in pushing youth onto the streets, from hostile school climates that leave LGBT youth feeling unsafe, to harsh discipline policies that have a disparate impact of perpetuating a school-to-prison pipeline.”

A longitudinal study (PDF) by Kathryn E. W. Himmelstein and Hannah Bruckner finds that “LGB and gender non-conforming youth, especially gender non-conforming girls, are three times more likely to experience harsh disciplinary treatment and wind up in the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ than their non-LGB counterparts. These differences in punishment cannot be explained by greater engagement in illegal or transgressive behaviors by LGBT youth, but rather by the reality that LGBT youth are punished more harshly when engaging in the same behavior as their peers.”

Religion compels us to fight the unjust, prejudiced systems that cause and perpetuate that misfortune.

Finding themselves on the streets, struggling to survive, our young people are forced to engage in activities that propel them toward a system of suspicion, targeting and arrest by law enforcement. Even those who are not engaging in those activities are under suspicion for doing so, with the mere possession of a condom sometimes used as evidence of suspected “prostitution.” Such suspicion and potential arrest renders LGBT youth less likely to take precautions to avoid HIV infection or to be tested for it.

Bishop Robinson’s full article at the Daily Beast is here.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café