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Know Your Rights, MA: Youth in Care

LGBTQ Youth in MA Department of Youth Services System

ALL YOUTH, INCLUDING LGBTQ YOUTH, HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SAFE IN MASSACHUSETTS’ DYS SYSTEM

You have the right to equal treatment and to access appropriate services while in the juvenile justice system.

You have the right to safe and appropriate placements free from discrimination or harassment based on your actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

If you have an attorney, your attorney should represent you supportively and without bias based on your LGBTQ status.

You have the right to be open about your sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

You have the right to be identified by your chosen name and pronouns and to wear clothing consistent with your gender identity.

You 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 you cannot be to move you to a more restrictive facility or to isolate you.

You cannot be segregated or classified as a sex offender based on myths that LGBTQ youth prey on other youth.

You may not be disciplined for engaging in age-appropriate romantic or sexual conduct that would not be punished between two different-sex youth.

You must have access to appropriate medical or mental health care, both for general services and for any medical services that may be unique to you as an LGBTQ youth.

Medical care should not be conditioned on good behavior or withheld as a punishment.

Massachusetts law protects you from having a therapist try to change your sexual orientation or gender identity.

You may report care or treatment concerns regarding an employee or another youth through the Youth Grievance Process or an employee.

Juvenile Criminal Records & Expungement

Expungement: Under the law, getting your record erased is called expungement. After your record is expunged, you can legally say that you have no criminal record. Having your criminal record permanently erased can make a difference when you are applying for employment, housing, and many other necessities.

Only some types of criminal records can be erased. Some examples of eligible records are those relating to:

  • Tagging
  • Drug possessions and distribution
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Theft
  • Sex work

You should talk to a lawyer about whether your records are eligible, and how to request expungement if they are.

For more information on criminal records, visit:
Greater Boston Legal Services
Or contact them: www.gbls.org/contact_us or (617) 371-1234.

Other Resources:

National Equity Project

Black and Pink

Citizens for Juvenile Justice

 

In Foster Care? A Group Home? Getting DCF Services?

You have the right to be treated with care and respect, and to be affirmed for who you are.

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

You 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 that you should be protected from both physical and emotional harm in placements and should be placed with caretakers who will ensure your safety and wellbeing outside the home. 

You have the right to be open about your sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. 

You have the right to be identified by the name and pronouns that accord with your gender identity and to wear clothing consistent with your gender identity. 

Massachusetts law protects you from having a therapist try to change your sexual orientation or gender identity. 

You have the right to equal treatment and to access appropriate services for your sexual orientation or gender identity or expression while in the child welfare system. 

You must have access to appropriate medical or mental health care. 

You should be treated equally to heterosexual and gender conforming youth, including about age appropriate displays of affection. 

You should have access to supportive materials and resources, including to GSAs at schools and to community support groups. 

You have resources

There are LGBTQ liaisons at DCF who can help you find resources. To be connected with one, contact the State Chair of LGBTQ Liaisons, Effie Molina.

Contact the Child Advocate who can help you if you are having a problem in DCF care or custody. 

There is a Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth that has resources including a map of affirming providers.

For more information about your rights and protections, and for referrals, you can contact GLAD Answers, GLAD’s free & confidential legal information line. Your LGBTQ and HIV legal rights resource!

M–F 1:30–4:30 p.m. EST

June 2020