Press

Task Force, Inc., applauds California Assembly's passage of measure addressing abuse in state's juvenile justice system

Date: 
September 12, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
(Office) 646.358.1465
(Cell) 917.704.6358
rsklar@theTaskForce.org

State partner Equality California sponsored the measure; Task Force’s groundbreaking report on LGBT homeless youth cited in efforts

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., applauds the California Assembly’s passage this week of a measure that includes vital safeguards to protect youth from abuse and mistreatment in California’s Department of Juvenile Justice facilities. SB 518, the Juvenile Justice Safety and Protection Act, was sponsored by state partner Equality California. It creates a Youth Bill of Rights to protect all young people, including those who identify as LGBT, from abuse and discrimination in the state’s justice system.

Earlier this year, the Task Force released Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness, a national analysis that cites several factors involving LGBT homeless youth that would indicate a higher probability of contact with the juvenile justice system. The report’s findings were used in the successful lobbying efforts of the state Assembly.

Statement by Nick Ray, Senior Policy Analyst
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc.

“LGBT homeless youth face myriad challenges simply to survive on the streets. Sadly, many of them have little choice but to resort to survival behaviors that bring them into contact with the criminal justice system. If they are to emerge from the juvenile justice system with a real chance of success in life then it is critical that this system afford them full and appropriate protection from harassment and worse at the hands of other juvenile offenders or system staff. This bill is a first and critical step in ensuring that these young people are adequately protected. We applaud the work of Equality California and the Assembly for passing this measure.”
 
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness cites several factors involving LGBT homeless youth that would indicate a higher probability of contact with the juvenile justice system:

• Increased use of drugs by lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth, along with family and school problems, leads to an increased probability of involvement with the juvenile justice system.

• LGBT homeless youth are more likely to engage in survival sex (for example, having sex with someone for money, food or shelter) than their heterosexual peers.

• Transgender homeless youth are even more likely to engage in survival sex because their access to legal income is even more restricted than their LGB peers.

Once within the public juvenile justice system:
 
• Staff with their own biases will choose to remain ignorant of abuse, both physical and emotional, that is being inflicted on LGBT youth in their care.

• Transgender-identified homeless youth upon admittance to the juvenile justice system face particular risks because most systems do not have the capacity, and in many instances the desire, to provide gender-appropriate accommodations for such youth that simultaneously guarantees their safety.

Download a copy of the report here.

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. (“NGLTF, Inc.”), founded in 1974, works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. NGLTF, Inc., is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to NGLTF, Inc., are not tax-deductible.