Hennepin County proposes the project titled, Understanding the Role of Trauma and Violence Exposure on Justice-Involved LGBTQI and GNC Youth in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Recent research suggests that youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex (LGBTQI), or gender non-conforming (GNC) are an overrepresented but understudied population in the juvenile justice system. They likely demonstrate different pathways into the juvenile justice system and experience a heightened risk for victimization while in the system compared to heterosexual or cisgender youth. This highlights the need for juvenile justice systems to not only develop and implement trauma-informed practices, but also increase understanding of the LGBTQI or GNC youth being served, and how their experiences in the juvenile justice system may serve as a risk factor for further victimization and retraumatization.
Researchers propose to study the incidence and experiences of LGBTQI or GNC youth who receive juvenile justice services (detention, placement, or probation) from involvement with the Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCCR) in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Across the three juvenile service areas, DOCCR served more than 2,000 youth in 2015. Based on recent research, the researchers anticipate approximately 15% of the youth in the system would identify as LGBTQI or GNC.
The research design is a rigorous, mixed methods study of juvenile clients who identify as LGBTQI or GNC and heterosexual or cisgender, affording the investigators a quasi-experimental design using natural comparison groups. This will allow the researchers to identify similarities across justice involved youth, while also identifying and understanding the important differences that may exist based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, by including all three DOCCR juvenile services area divisions, the researchers can also compare youth's experiences by the type and level of services received.
Data will be collected through the use of survey instruments, interviews, administrative data collection, and an organizational self-assessment. Qualitative data will be systematically analyzed for recurring content themes. Quantitative data analysis will include basic descriptive and bivariate approaches, as well as more complex multivariate analyses, such as structural equation modeling and path analysis to demonstrate how specific variables are interconnected and predict pathways to justice system involvement.
Anticipated deliverables from this project include: technical reports from each research question and evaluation activity, including methodology, results, barriers encountered, and recommendations; practitioner-friendly overview documents highlighting the project's goals and objectives; and dissemination of study outcomes in at least one publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal regarding results.