QUT Crime and Justice Research Centre criminologist Dr Angela Dwyer recently published an article on her research with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people and their experiences of policing in Queensland, Australia. The article, ‘Teaching young queers a lesson: how police teach lessons about non-heteronormativity in public spaces’, examines the difficulties these young people can experience when they are interacting with police officers in public spaces.
Although police services have done a lot of work to improve their relationships with LGBT people recently, the research discussed in this paper shows that LGBT young people have a lot of negative interactions with police officers because these young people ‘look queer’ (for example, a young male might sit on another young males lap in public) in public spaces. The paper argues that the interactions that happen between police and LGBT young people in public could be teaching onlookers, like the general public, other police, or other LGBT young people, that it is okay to be discriminatory towards these young people. Most importantly, the research shows that LGBT young people are learning that they need to avoid ‘looking queer’ in public spaces in order to minimise harm experienced in interactions with police.
Dwyer’s research shows that there are many situations where LGBT young people are responding to police actions they believe to be unjust, and their responses to these actions are leading to further charges and arrest. The research shows that all police officers need further training to understand the issues that LGBT young people can experience in their lives and to understand how to interact with these young people in respectful ways. It also shows that we need to teach all young people, and particularly LGBT young people, how to interact with police in ways that will ensure they are not further criminalised for their actions.
Dwyer, A. (2015) Teaching young queers a lesson: how police teach lessons about non-heteronormativity in public spaces. Sexuality and Culture 19(3): 493-512