Over Half of California Girls in Juvenile Justice Facilities Are LGBTQ or Gender Nonconforming

Conversion Therapy

The Disparities affecting the LGBTQ Girls of Color who also identify as LGBTQ or Gender Nonconforming is Alarming

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Yesterday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Impact Justice announce the release of a trailblazing publication entitled “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Questioning, and/or Gender Nonconforming and Transgender Girls and Boys in the California Juvenile Justice System: A Practice Guide.” The guide, written by Angela Irvine and Aisha Canfield at Impact Justice and Shannan Wilber at NCLR, provides California probation officials with the tools to protect the safety and well-being of LGBTQ and gender nonconforming (GNC) youth in their care and custody.

Research shows that LGBTQ and GNC youth are detained in the state’s juvenile justice system at much higher rates than their representation in the general population, and are at higher risk for many serious negative outcomes, including child abuse and homelessness. The new guide addresses this crisis, and recommends new approaches that can protect these young people and promote fair and equitable treatment of all youth in California’s juvenile justice system.

“It has been an incredible opportunity to partner with Impact Justice and NCLR to grasp a stronger understanding of how many LGBTQ and gender nonconforming youth—especially girls—we have in our system. This data is driving reforms across our county,” stated Jill Silva, Chief Probation Officer of Stanislaus County.

Dr. Angela Irvine, Vice President of Impact Justice explains, “Our team partnered with the Chief Probation Officers of California to conduct a survey of detention facilities, ranches, and camps across the state. The results show that nearly 20% of the youth confined in these facilities self-identify as LGBTQ or gender non-conforming. The overrepresentation is particularly dramatic among girls (51.5%) and youth who reside in the northern most rural region of the state (30%). These young people are also more likely than their peers to have been homeless, involved in the child welfare system, or arrested for survival crimes such as prostitution.”

“This important new research is a wake-up call about the vulnerability of LGBTQ and gender non-conforming youth in California’s juvenile justice system, 90% of whom are also youth of color.” stated Shannan Wilber, NCLR’s Youth Policy Director. “This guide will provide probation officials with the information and tools they need to respond effectively to this crisis, which takes such a devastating toll on youth who—when they are treated with compassion and respect—have enormous potential to succeed and to become healthy, contributing adults.”

While this particular guide focuses on California, these trends hold across the entire country, and the recommendations can help youth locked up in every city and county.

An electronic copy of the guide is available at www.nclrights.org/JuvenileJusticeGuide.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. 

Impact Justice is an innovation and research center, tapping into bold, original ideas to reduce incarceration and shining a spotlight on existing efforts that need to be embraced.  Impact Justice is committed to fostering a more humane, responsive, and restorative system of justice in our nation.  

[From a News Release]

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