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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Drop Out, Push Out, & School-to-Prison Pipeline: New Findings Regarding Systematic Discrimination and Adversity for LGBTQ Youth with Disabilities

By Oliver Stabbe, NCIL Policy Intern

This week the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network released new findings on systematic discrimination that LGBTQ students experience during their secondary education. Their findings examined LGBTQ identities as an entity as well as LGBTQ with intersectional identities. Among the researched intersectional identities was disability and how LGBTQ students with disabilities experience school compared to their LGBTQ non-disabled peers. These new findings show that LGBTQ students with disabilities reported having an educational, emotional, or physical disability are:

  • more likely to have experienced school discipline (47.8%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (36.9%);
  • more likely to drop out of school (5.8%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (2.6%);
  • more likely to have been involved in the justice system (4.4%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (1.7%);
  • more likely to have experienced all types of disciplinary actions (47.8%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (36.9%);
  • less likely to say they planned to graduate from high school (5.8%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (2.6%); and
  • more likely to have been involved in the justice system due to school discipline (4.4%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (1.7%).

In addition, LGBTQ disabled youth who are also people of color are even more likely to face unfair treatment because of their identities. These new findings as well as a great deal of other research has documented that youth with disabilities over represent the school to prison pipeline due to their higher rates of involvement with the criminal/juvenile justice system and lower high school graduation rates. Such factors as the ones listed above are experienced disproportionately by young persons with disabilities and as such, deprives them of educational opportunities afforded to their peers who do not have oppressed identities.

LGBTQ youth with disabilities are, in whole, systematically more likely setup to fail given their unfair treatment during their secondary school years.

The data listed above comes from GLSEN’s Drop Out, Push Out, & School-to-Prison Pipeline Report (PDF).

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