Hastings Law Journal


Queer youth constitute an isolated and invisible population severely in need of help from all segments of society. They are harassed and rejected by their peers, the media, and the public in general. Queer youth are the most at-risk population of adolescents for suicide, homelessness, substance abuse, prostitution, and HIV infection. Most critically, queer youth often do not receive the necessary familial support needed to cope in such an environment. To the contrary, they are emotionally maltreated by their parents more often than any other group of adolescents.

The author asserts that it is imperative for the legal system to help queer youth by recognizing the severity of emotional abuse directed at a child's sexual orientation. She begins by examining the causes and effects of parental maltreatment of queer youth. She then argues that the current denial of emotional abuse of queer youth by parents results from four factors: (1) the general disregard in the legal system for psychological child abuse; (2) the institutional dominance of heterosexuality; (3) the belief that a child's sexual orientation is mutable; and (4) the parental rights doctrine. Finally, the paper suggests statutory recognition of emotional abuse directed at a child's sexual orientation as a form of child abuse.

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