Messy, Butch, and Queer LGBTQ Youth and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Shannon D. Snapp, Jennifer M. Hoenig, Amanda Fields, Stephen T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Emerging evidence suggests that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth experience disparate treatment in schools that may result in criminal sanctions. In an effort to understand the pathways that push youth out of schools, we conducted focus groups with youth (n = 31) from Arizona, California, and Georgia, and we interviewed adult advocates from across the United States (n = 19). Independent coders used MAXQDA to organize and code data. We found that LGBTQ youth are punished for public displays of affection and violating gender norms. Youth often experience a hostile school climate, may fight to protect themselves, and are frequently blamed for their own victimization. Family rejection and homelessness facilitate entry in the school-to-prison pipeline. Narratives highlight new opportunities to challenge inequity in schools.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • LGBTQ youth
  • bullying
  • intersectionality
  • school discipline
  • school-to-prison pipeline
  • victimization
  • zero-tolerance


  • Developmental Psychology
  • Psychology
  • Curriculum and Instruction

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