Gay and lesbian teens in the United States are about 40 percent more likely than their straight peers to be punished by schools, police and the courts, according to a study published Monday, which finds that girls are especially at risk for unequal treatment, reports the Washington Post. The research, described as the first national look at sexual orientation and teen punishment, comes as a spate of high-profile bullying and suicide cases across the country have focused attention on the sometimes hidden cruelties of teen life. The study, from Yale University, adds another layer, finding substantial disparities between gay and straight teens in school expulsions, arrests, convictions and police stops. The harsher approach is not explained by differences in misconduct, the study says.

“The most striking difference was for lesbian and bisexual girls, and they were two to three times as likely as girls with similar behavior to be punished,” said Kathryn Himmelstein, lead author of the study, published in the journal Pediatrics. Why the punishment gap exists is less clear…

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staff and wire services reports