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February 22, 2013 3:05 pm

LGBTQ Youth Rights in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems

In a recent post, I focused on the rights that students, particularly public school students, have and the anti-discrimination laws that provide protection to youth as well as adults in employment, housing and public accommodations.

GLAD’s Youth Initiative is also working to make sure youth in the child welfare system or the juvenile justice system know their rights, and we are exploring ways to increase those protections. 

 

If your rights are being violated or you have questions about your rights, or if you work with LGBTQ youth in one of these areas and have questions, GLAD would like to hear from you.  Contact GLAD’s Legal InfoLine by email or live chat or call our toll-free number, 800-455-GLAD (4523).  A friendly volunteer will assist you—it’s free and confidential.

 

LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system have the right to safe and appropriate placements, free from discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, and have the right to:

  • Be free from harassment and abuse based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in foster care placements. This means protection from both physical and emotional harm in placements and placement with caretakers who will ensure their safety and well-being both inside and outside the home.
  • Be open about their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
  • Be identified by the name and pronouns and wear clothing that accord with his or her gender identity.
  • Be free from religious indoctrination that condemns or disparages their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

LGBTQ youth have the right to equal treatment and to access appropriate services for their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression while in the child welfare system.  In particular, LGBTQ youth:

  • Must have access to appropriate medical or mental health care and should not be forced to undergo improper or disreputable services damaging to their well-being, such as reparative or conversion therapy. 
  • Should be treated equally to heterosexual and gender conforming youth, including with regard to age appropriate displays of affection. 
  • Should have access to supportive materials and resources. 

LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice system have the right to safe and appropriate placements free from discrimination or harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. In particular:

  • LGBTQ youth are entitled to protection from physical, emotional or sexual abuse by other youth or facility staff. 
  • A facility’s response to harassment or violence against an LGBTQ youth cannot be to move the victim to a more restrictive facility or to isolate the victim. 
  • LGBTQ youth cannot be segregated or classified as sex offenders based on myths that LGBTQ youth prey on other youth. 
  • LGBTQ youth have the right to be open about their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. 
  • Transgender youth have the right to be identified by name and pronouns and wear clothing that accords with their gender identity.

LGBTQ youth have the right to equal treatment and to access appropriate services for their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression while in the juvenile justice system.  In particular, LGBTQ youth:

  • Must have access to appropriate medical or mental health care, both for general services and for any medical services that may be unique to LGBTQ youth.
  • Should not be forced to undergo improper or disreputable services damaging to their well-being, such as reparative or conversion therapy.
  • May not be disciplined for engaging in age-appropriate romantic or sexual conduct that would not be punished between two different-sex youth.
  • Have the right to be free from religious indoctrination by facility staff that condemns or disparages their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression

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