• JUVENILE JUSTICE WORKFORCE'S ATTITUDES TOWARD SEXUAL AND GENDER MINORITY YOUTH: INFLUENCE ON THE DEMONSTRATION OF PROTECTIVE AND SUPPORTIVE BEHAVIORS

      Matarese, Marlene; Harrington, Donna (2013)
      The purpose of this dissertation is to better understand the attitudes and behaviors that Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) staff have toward Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) youth from the perspectives of DJS staff working at all levels within headquarters, local/regional offices, courts, detention facilities, residential treatment facilities, and school settings. This study aims to understand the predictors of attitudes toward SGM youth and the influence that these attitudes may have on DJS staff members' provision of protection and support for these youth. Prior literature details SGM youth experiences in the child-serving systems of institutionalized heterosexism, misperceptions about SGM identity, abuse, and a lack of protection and support of SGM youth. The lack of protection and support is also related to the workforce not providing SGM youth with access to culturally appropriate resources, creating environments that foster isolation and invisibility, silencing youth and taking away their ownership of personal sexuality and gender identity. When SGM youth are not protected by the workforce in charge of their care, they are at greater risk for poorer future outcomes as SGM youth transition into adulthood. Multiple regression analysis was used to analyze the predictors of and the relationships between attributions, attitudes, and behaviors toward SGM youth of the DJS workforce. This study found that respondents who believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are more immutable are more likely to have positive attitudes and respondents who reported more positive attitudes were more likely to report that they would demonstrate protective and supportive behaviors toward LGBT youth. Across most analyses, SGM people, women, and Caucasians reported that they had attributions that sexual orientation and gender identity are immutable, more positive attitudes and that they would demonstrate more supportive and protective behaviors toward SGM youth. Comparably, RAs, who work directly with youth within facilities, reported beliefs that sexual orientation and gender identity, are mutable, more negative attitudes and that they would demonstrate less protective and supportive behaviors toward SGM youth. Knowledge was a significant predictor to attributions, attitudes and behaviors. These consistent findings set the stage for implications for theory, policy, practice and research.