In honor of National Coming Out Day 2023, Temple University's Department of Criminal Justice invited two scholars from the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, with research focuses in queer criminology, Dr. Vanessa Panfil and Dr. Valerio Baćak, to address the LGBTQ+ issues related to the criminal legal system.
On October 12th, Dr. Panfil discussed her journey into academia, particularly her research interests in the area of queer criminology and LGBTQ advocacy. Before pursuing academia, Dr. Panfil was an active advocator for LGBTQ rights, and still is to this day. During her doctoral studies, queer criminology was an understudied topic. Despite receiving some pushback, Dr. Panfil pursued her research interests in this field. She believes the voices of LGBTQ people should be heard, and their experiences should be examined beyond the traditional criminological perspectives. In her talk, she highlighted a significant gap in criminology since its inception. Dr. Panfil primarily uses qualitative research to explore how LGBTQ people have been marginalized, stigmatized, and discriminated against, and, in turn, criminalized. In her talk, she discussed how LGBTQ youth are more likely to be targeted and harassed by school officers, disproportionately filtering them into the system through the school-to-prison pipeline. Additionally, LGBTQ youth are more likely to drop out of school and/or run away from home. Her research demonstrates the necessity of queer criminology research to assist in establishing more inclusive and less discriminative policies for LGBTQ populations.
On October 18th, Dr. Baćak addressed the challenges of accessing data related to LGBTQ populations in the criminal legal system. In his talk, Dr. Baćak discussed the different levels of citizenship that people may hold in their countries - not in terms of traditional citizenship, but in terms of the rights afforded to citizens of different countries dependent on the presence or absence of anti-LGBTQ legislation and social attitudes. Using survey data to analyze LGBTQ victimization experiences across Europe, Dr. Baćak compared the perspectives between those with varying levels of citizenship statuses. From his exploratory findings, countries like the West and Nordic Europe, with relatively equal-distributed legal, economic, and social rights, produce better life satisfaction than various other European countries. This cross-national comparison research could allow researchers and policymakers to examine the LGBTQ population's victimization experiences further to develop multifaceted policies to meet the basic and unique needs of LGBTQ people.
Temple's Department of Criminal Justice honors the contributions of queer criminology to the criminal legal field and to the LGBTQ+ community. Being diverse, equitable, and inclusive is an important mission of our department, and we aim to uplift and highlight research from diverse perspectives. This year, we hosted five diversity talks in honor of Black History Month in February, AAPI Heritage Month in May, and National Coming Out Day in October. Stay tuned as we continue to plan more diversity talks for 2024! We sincerely believe that diversity makes us better, stronger, and more prosperous, and the criminal legal system needs to be more inclusive and diverse to minimize inequity.