The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP) submitted this testimony on July 5, 2012 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth (the Commission), Per the Commission's request for public comments on the opportunities and challenges facing LGBTQ youth in the Commonwealth. The testimony focuses on challenges currently faced by LGBTQ youth and youth living with or at significant risk of HIV/AIDS and who are in state custody. It describes the overrepresentation of youth of color, low-income youth, and LGBTQ youth in state care systems. CHLP's visits to juvenile detention facilities and interviews with youth across the country highlight that the sexual health needs of young people in care often go unmet in the absence of specific written policies and service guidelines. While the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services has a policy regarding HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) for youth in care, this and related policies do not include LGBTQ-specific information or standards for sexual health services beyond basic HIV/STI screening; nor do the policies mention staff training to ensure competence that includes the rights and needs of LGBTQ youth.
The testimony describes in detail the Teen SENSE Model Policies and Standards (http://hivlawandpolicy.org/public/initiatives/teensense) on comprehensive, LGBTQ-inclusive sexual health care, sexual health education, and staff training, and offers them as a framework for bringing consistent, quality health care to Massachusetts youth in care.