National Center for Lesbian Rights

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Legislation & Policy

National LGBTQ/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group

NCLR is a member of the National LGBTQ/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group, which is a network of nearly 50 organizations and individual stakeholders working to reduce the unique harms of the U.S. criminal legal system experienced by LGBTQ+ people, people living with HIV, or those at risk of acquiring HIV, through research, education, and policy advocacy.

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Legislation & Policy

The Whole Youth Model

NCLR partners with Ceres Policy Research on the “Whole Youth Model,” an approach to serving youth in the justice system that prioritizes health and well-being over punishment and surveillance. Project staff provide training and technical assistance to participating jurisdictions, emphasizing the importance of collecting and analyzing data on the sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and race/ethnicity of each youth, among other aspects of their identity. The model is based on the premise that public safety is furthered by authentic conversations with young people and individualized responses tailored to their unique strengths and needs.

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Legislation & Policy

Supporting the Well-Being of Systems Involved LGBTQ Youth Certificate Program

NCLR and Ceres Policy Research partner with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University to present an annual certificate program, “Supporting the Well-Being of Systems Involved LGBTQ Youth.” Multidisciplinary teams from jurisdictions across the country participate in a week-long intensive program designed to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to implement a Capstone Project in their communities to improve outcomes for LGBTQ youth.

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Legislation & Policy

The Equity Project

NCLR and the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) are founding members of the Equity Project, a national initiative to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of LGBTQ youth in the justice system. In 2009, the project published its seminal report entitled “Hidden Injustice,” documenting widespread discrimination against LGBTQ youth by law enforcement, probation, courts and institutional staff. Through training, technical assistance and development of agency policies and professional standards, the Equity Project has increased professional awareness and competence and improved the outcomes of countless LGBTQ youth involved in the justice system.

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Legislation & Policy

Support OUT

NCLR is working with the Office of LGBTQ Affairs in Santa Clara County, California to implement “Support OUT,” a multi-year initiative designed to promote the health and well-being of the LGBTQ youth living in the county. This public health initiative seeks to address the risk factors that jeopardize LGBTQ youth – especially low-income LGBTQ youth of color – and contribute to their overrepresentation among homeless youth and in child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The vision of the initiative is that all LGBTQ and gender nonconforming children and youth in the county thrive in their homes, schools, and communities, and successfully transition to adulthood.

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Legislation & Policy

Transforming Justice (Michigan Juvenile Justice Reform)

NCLR partnered with the Ruth Ellis Center and the Michigan Center for Youth Justice to create a justice system in Wayne County, Michigan that prevents the criminalization of LGBTQ youth, addresses their unique needs in community-based settings and prevents harms associated with detention and incarceration.

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Legislation & Policy

Title 15 regulations

NCLR served on a workgroup to revise the Title 15 regulations, which govern county-run youth detention facilities, ranches and camps in California. Convened by the Board of State and Community Corrections, the process included input from probation officials, youth advocates and community-based organizations serving currently and formerly incarcerated youth. This inclusive process resulted in several new protections for youth, including LGBTQ youth. NCLR worked with other advocates to create a resource that clearly spelled out new rights for youth in custody.

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Legislation & Policy

TGNC Youth in Confinement Facilities

NCLR received support from the National Prison Rape Elimination Act Resource Center (PRC) to develop a model policy for confinement facilities housing transgender, gender nonconforming and intersex youth. NCLR and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy worked with a diverse group of youth justice stakeholders, including advocates for TGNCI communities, formerly incarcerated young people, facility personnel, and youth justice practitioners from across the country. Together, we produced the model policy which was published by the PRC. Based on the policy, NCLR and the National Juvenile Defender Center created a checklist for juvenile defenders to help juvenile defenders advocate for the safety and well-being of TGNCI youth in secure and non-secure facilities.

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Legislation & Policy

California Senate Bill 731

On October 11, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark bill that protects transgender children in the foster care system.

Authored by Senator Mark Leno, Senate Bill 731 gives critical guidance to child welfare workers regarding the placement of transgender youth in out-of-home care. The bill, co-authored by Senator Jim Beall, amends the Foster Care Bill of Rights to specify that foster youth have the right to be placed according to their gender identity, regardless of the sex listed in their court or child welfare records. SB 731, which went into effect on January 1, 2016, also requires the California Department of Social Services to issue regulations implementing this provision. By providing specific guidance to the child welfare field, the bill promotes the safety, permanency and well-being of transgender foster youth.

Many transgender youth face rejection, harassment, and abuse from their families, communities, and schools due to bias and stigma related to their gender identity or expression. These children are at extremely high risk for poor health and mental health outcomes. These risks are magnified for children in foster care, most of whom have experienced significant trauma. Placement of transgender youth consistent with their gender identity is necessary to protect them from further rejection, harassment, and abuse.

SB 731 was co-sponsored by NCLR, Equality California, and the Transgender Law Center, and supported by the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, the County Welfare Directors Association of California, Family Builders, the Gender Health Center, the Juvenile Court Judges of California, the Youth Law Center, the National Center for Youth Law, Legal Services for Children, the East Bay Children’s Law Offices, and Gender Spectrum.

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Supreme Court Rules on Title VII! Give now & Celebrate!