FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 2, 2004
(San Francisco, CA, February 2, 2004) — In a new tool kit released today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) offers resources designed to educate people about the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.
"LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems are at a disproportionately high risk of experiencing verbal harassment and physical or sexual abuse because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Jody Marksamer, an Equal Justice Works Fellow at NCLR. "Despite this pervasive discrimination, there are very few resources addressing this problem."
NCLR's Youth Project has been advocating for LGBTQ youth in schools, foster care, juvenile justice settings, and the mental health system since 1993. The Project provides direct, free legal information to youth, legal advocates, and activists through a toll-free line; advocates for policies that protect and support LGBTQ youth; and litigates cases that establish legal protections for LGBTQ youth in schools, foster care, juvenile justice and other settings.
NCLR has launched a new initiative focused on addressing the needs of LGBTQ youth in foster care and juvenile justice. These initiatives include:
The Bay Area LGBTQ Foster Care Task Force
NCLR, in collaboration with Legal Services for Children and Family Builders by Adoption, is spearheading a task force to address the needs of LGBTQ youth and families involved in the Bay Area foster care system. The task force's priority is implementing A.B. 458, California's new Foster Care Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in the foster care system.
The Model Standards Project
In 2002, NCLR and Legal Services for Children launched a ground-breaking three-year project to develop and distribute the first set of model professional standards to govern the care of LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice system. With the help of an advisory committee of professionals with expertise in these areas from around the country and LGBTQ youth who are or have been in state custody, we have completed a first draft of the standards and we plan to begin distribution of the model standards in the spring of 2004.
The Safe Homes Project
The Safe Homes Project, led by Equal Justice Works Fellow Jody Marksamer, is working to address the needs of LGBTQ youth in foster care, group homes, or the juvenile justice system through direct litigation, technical assistance, public education, and legislative advocacy.
The tool kit materials can be accessed at www.nclrights.org. The materials include a summary of California's new law prohibiting harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the foster care system, a question and answer guide about this new law, as well as fact sheets on the experiences of LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.