This report chronicles the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) youth in the New York juvenile justice system. It discusses the overrepresentation of these youth in juvenile justice, and the underlying problems, such as stigma, family rejection, and abuse, that lead to this overrepresentation. Once in the system, these youth face numerous obstacles caused by lack of awareness of their existence and needs; lack of appropriate sentencing options (leading to their being sentenced at facilities more restrictive than their actions warrant); abuse, harassment, and isolation; lack of expertise among the professionals who work with them, including judges, social workers, and facility staff; few and inconsistently applied policies relating to them; and lack of services sensitive to their needs. The report cites numerous case studies and testimonials of youth in state custody to illustrate these points. It concludes with recommendations to address these needs, including the decriminalization of non-violent survival crimes with which LGBT youth are commonly charged, training for attorneys, judges, and staff that work with LGBT youth, and consistent and clear policies governing the placement of LGBT youth in juvenile justice facilities.
The Center for HIV Law and Policy challenges barriers to the rights and health of people affected by HIV through legal advocacy, high-impact policy initiatives, and creation of cross-issue partnerships, networks, and resources. We support movement building that amplifies the power of individuals and communities to mobilize for change that is rooted in racial, gender, and economic justice.