CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Adler on Lewdness, Indecency, and LGBTQ Youth

Adler libbyLibby Adler (Northeastern University - School of Law) has posted Life at the Corner of Poverty and Sexual Abjection: Lewdness, Indecency, and LGBTQ Youth (Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and Law, Chris Ashford, ed., Edward Elgar Law and Society series (Austin Sarat and Rosemary Hunter, eds.), Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In recent memory, equality has been the watchword of gay advocacy. The achievement (and now defense) of same-sex marriage has relied on this attractive constitutional principle to which we can attribute substantial gains, from parenting rights to workplace protections. Equality has been so prominent in the past decade that it could slip one’s memory that before equality, the constitutional principle to which the gay advocacy community was most devoted was privacy. Indeed, if one were to dig below the equality foundation upon which recent victories such as Obergefell rest, one would find the debt to privacy in the sediment. Privacy does not, however, serve all members of the lgbtq community equally well and may in fact injure the interests of those who lack privacy entirely. It is widely known that lgbtq youth are overrepresented among the homeless in the U.S. They are, as a result, subject to an excess of police attention for everything from public urination to sleeping on park benches. This chapter argues that homeless lgbtq youth inhabit a peculiar location at the intersection of vagrancy — a legal status finding its roots in pre-Elizabethan England — and sexual/gender deviance. These two identity-shaping forces combine to mark lgbtq youth as irreducibly lewd and indecent, rendering them uniquely susceptible to arrest for criminal offenses that they practically embody.

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