LGBTQ Youth and Juvenile Justice: Resource List

LGBTQ Youth and Juvenile Justice: Resource List

Note: The language, acronyms, and statistics used in the summaries below vary widely. Each summary generally uses the language, acronyms, and statistics of the publication it describes.

Advancement Project, The Alliance for Educational Justice, and Gay-Straight Alliance Network.  2012. “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: Why Zero Tolerance is Not the Solution to Bullying.”

This report focuses on zero-tolerance policies and how they push LGBT youth and students who bully them into the school-to-prison pipeline. For all students involved, bullying can lead to academic difficulties, truancy, acting out, self-defense, psychological trauma, mental health consequences, and dropping out or being pushed out of school. Instead of zero-tolerance policies, schools should prioritize interventionist solutions above exclusionary punishment.

Categories:  School to Prison Pipeline

American Civil Liberties Union. 2014. “End the Abuse: Protecting LGBTI Prisoners from Sexual Assault.”

This advocacy guide provides guidance on enforcing  the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regulations, while noting that there are significant loopholes for state and local agencies. Specific regulations governing the treatment of LGBTI adults and youth include:  individualized housing and program placements that must be reassessed at least twice a year, prohibition of any search solely for the purpose of determining a person’s genital status , and prohibition of housing placement of adults based on LGBTI status unless it is dedicated housing that was established based on a consent decree, legal settlement, or legal judgment for protection of LGBTI inmates. Facilities may not house juveniles based solely on their LGBTI status under any circumstances. 

Categories: PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Secure Facilities; Staff Training

American University Washington College of Law. 2014. “Responding to Sexual Abuse of Youth in Custody: Responding to the Needs of Boys, Girls and Gender Non-Conforming Youth."

This is a 24-hour training covering the national Prison Rape Elimination Act Standards and implications for responding to the different needs of boys, girls and gender non-conforming youth who are sexually abused in custody. The goals of the training are to:  (1) review the applicable PREA Standards for responding to sexual abuse in custody and their gender impact; (2) review the dynamics of custodial sexual abuse for boys, girls and gender non-conforming youth; (3) identify the components of adolescent development and sexuality and understand their impact on sexual abuse of youth; (4) discuss immediate and long-term medical and mental health care needs of youthful victims of sexual abuse; and (5) identify legal, investigative and other implications and strategies of  responding to custodial sexual abuse.  

Categories: Secure Facilities; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Staff Training

Annie E. Casey Foundation. 2015. “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in the  Juvenile Justice System.

This practice guide provides an overview of key concepts and terminology related to sexual orientation, gender identify, and gender expression, summarizes the research on the effect of stigma and bias on the health and well-being of LGBT youth, the drivers contributing to their disproportionate involvement in the justice system and the harmful and unfair practices to which they are subjected in the system; identifies policies and procedures to prohibit discrimination, prevent harm and promote fair and equitable treatment of LGBT youth who are arrested and referred to juvenile justice agencies; and provides guidance on policies and practices required to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBT youth in detention facilities.

Categories: Secure Facilities; Staff Training; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention

BreakOUT! And National Council on Crime & Delinquency. 2010. “We Deserve Better.”

This report details the results of LGBTQ individuals who were surveyed about their experiences with the New Orleans Police Department, calling attention to the extreme vulnerability of transgender women of color living below the poverty line who are profiled and harassed and arrested by police.  

Categories: Police Relations

Brown, Bernadette E., Aisha Canfield and Angela Irvine. 2014. “Practice Guide: Creating a Juvenile Justice LGBTQ Task Force.” National Council on Crime & Delinquency.

This practice guide provides instruction on establishing a task force to address the needs of LGBTQ youth involved in the juvenile justice system and their families. The guide emphasizes the importance of elevating the voices of LGBTQ individuals and people of color, and recommends that leadership of the task force reflect the diversity of the people it represents, including sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and ethnicity.

Categories: Secure Facilities

Brown, Bernadette. 2014. “Op-ed: ‘Those Kinds of Kids’: Meeting the Needs of LGBTQ Youth of Color Charged with Status Offenses.” Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

This op-ed connects the Coalition for Juvenile Justice’s “National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses” to the experiences, environment, and obstacles faced by LGBTQ youth of color charged with status offenses. . It calls for cultural competency (including confronting homophobia in communities of color, as well as racism in LGBTQ communities), family engagement (using families as allies whenever possible), and positive youth development (providing positive role models and advisors).

Categories: Status Offenses; Family Engagement

Burdge, Hilary, Adela C. Licona, and Zami T. Hemingway. 2014. “LGBTQ Youth of Color: Discipline Disparities, School Push-Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

This report describes research designed to determine the effects of school discipline on  LGBTQ youth, youth of color, and students with disabilities. The research showed that LGBTQ youth of color face persistent and frequent harassment and bias-based bullying from peers and school staff as well as increased surveillance and policing, relatively greater incidents of harsh school discipline, and consistent blame for their own victimization.  

Categories: School to Prison Pipeline

The Center for HIV Law and Policy. 2012. “Teen SENSE: Model Standards: Staff Training Focusing on the Needs of Youth in State Custody.”‌Standards%20-%20Staff%‌20Training‌%20Focusing‌%20on%20the‌%20Needs%20of‌%20Youth%20in‌%20State%‌20‌Custody.pdf.

This report reviews best practices and policies for training juvenile justice staff. It is not a curriculum, but reference material to be reviewed before creating a curriculum. It addresses the misconceptions and lack of understanding of the needs of and challenges of LGBTQ youth in custody by those charged with protecting their safety and well-being, including sexual education and healthcare, a vital aspect of the overall safety and well-being of these individuals.

Categories: Healthcare; HIV; Staff Training

Child Welfare League of America and Lambda Legal. 2012. “Keeping LGBTQ Youth Safe in Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Placements.” Fostering Transitions.

This brief outlines the basic steps that facility and system staff should take to serve LGBTQ youth in custody or at-risk of being placed in custody. It calls for policies, practices, professionals, and staff to respect the SOGIE of LGBTQ youth; take into account the disproportionate representation of LGBTQ youth in juvenile justice systems and reasons behind this (including the school-to prison-pipeline and peer-on-peer bullying); create and implement policies and procedures governing services to  LGBTQ youth; seek alternatives to detention of LGBTQ youth and if they are placed in the system, ensure that it is a safe, nondiscriminatory placement; prevent victimization of these youth based on SOGIE provide appropriate mental, educational, and healthcare services for LGBTQ youth; protect LGBTQ youth from abuse and automatic classification as sex offenders; and refrain from isolating LGBTQ youth from the general population unless absolutely necessary for their immediate safety.

Categories: Staff Training; Healthcare; Secure Facilities; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention

Child Welfare League of America and Lambda Legal. 2015. “Getting Down to Basics: Tools to Support LGBTQ Youth in Care.” Fostering Transitions.

This toolkit offers guidance on a range of issues related to  LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care:

  • Basic Facts about Being LGBTQ;
  • Information for LGBTQ Youth in Care;
  • Families Supporting an LGBTQ Child;
  • Caseworkers with LGBTQ Clients;
  • Foster Parents Caring for LGBTQ Youth;
  • Congregate Care Providers Working with LGBTQ Youth;
  • Attorneys, Guardians ad Litem & Advocated Representing LGBTQ Youth;
  • Working with Transgender Youth;
  • Keeping LGBTQ Youth Safe in Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Placements;
  • Working with Homeless LGBTQ Youth;
  • Faith-Based Providers Working with LGBTQ Youth;
  • Basic LGBTQ Policies, Training & Services for Child Welfare Agencies;
  • Recommendations for Training & Education on LGBTQ Issues;
  • What the Experts Say: Position & Policy Statements on LGBTQ Issues from Leading Professional Associations;
  • LGBTQ Youth Resources;
  • Teaching LGBTQ Competence in Schools of Social Work;
  • Combating Misguided Efforts to Ban Lesbian & Gay Adults as Foster & Adoptive Parents;  
  • LGBTQ Youth Risk Data.

Categories: Child Welfare; Runaway and Homeless Youth; Secure Facilities; Juvenile Defense  Family Engagement

Coalition for Juvenile Justice. 2014. “LGBTQ Youth and Status Offenses: Improving System Responses and Reducing Disproportionality.”

This issue brief provides guidance on how to improve services and reduce the disproportionate numbers of LGBTQ youth charged with status offenses. The guidance is based on CJJ’s National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses.

Categories: Status Offenses; Secure Facilities

Coalition for Juvenile Justice. 2013. “National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses.”

The National Standards promote best practices for responding to youth who commit status offenses to better engage and support youth and families in need of assistance. The Standards call for an absolute prohibition on secure detention of status offenders and seek to divert them entirely from the delinquency system by promoting the most appropriate services for families and the least restrictive placement options for status offending youth.

Categories: Status Offenses; Secure Facilities

Dank, Meredith, Lilly Yu, and Jennifer Yahner. 2016. “Access to Safety: Health Outcomes, Substance Use and Abuse, and Service Provision for LGBTQ Youth, TMSM, and YWSW Who Engage in Survival Sex.” Urban Institute.

This report is the result of a three-year study of LGBTQ youth; young men who have sex with men (YMSM); and young women who have sex with women (YWSW) engaged in survival sex in New York City. The third of three reports, “Access to Safety” features data collected from youth respondents about their exposure to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other health issues, extent of substance abuse, and treatment and service provider experiences.

Categories: Healthcare; Survival Sex/Sex Trafficking; HIV; Runaway and Homeless Youth

Dank, Meredith, Lilly Yu, Jennifer Yahner, Elizabeth Pellitier, Mitchyll Mora, and Brendan Conner. 2015. “Locked In: Interactions with the Criminal Justice and Child Welfare Systems for LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Who Engage in Survival Sex.” Urban Institute.

This report is the result of a three-year study of LGBTQ youth; young men who have sex with men (YMSM); and young women who have sex with women (YWSW) engaged in survival sex in New York City. The second of three reports, “Locked In” focuses on the youths’ interactions with juvenile and criminal justice systems, in addition to the child welfare system, from the perspectives of both the youths and stakeholders involved in these systems.

Categories: Police Relations; Survival Sex/Sex Trafficking; Secure Facilities; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Child Welfare; Staff Training

Dank, Meredith, Jennifer Yahner, Kuniko Madden, Isela Bañuelos, Lilly Yu, Andrea Ritchie, Mitchyll Mora, Brandan Conner. 2015. “Surviving the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex.” Urban Institute

This report is the result of a three-year study of LGBTQ youth; young men who have sex with men (YMSM); and young women who have sex with women (YWSW) engaged in survival sex in New York City. The first of three reports, “Surviving the Streets of New York” describes the findings from detailed interviews with 283 youths who engaged in survival sex in New York City and identified themselves as LGBTQ, YMSM, or YWSW. The reports seeks to describe and quantify these youths’ experiences and characteristics to gain a better understanding of their engagement in survival sex and how the support networks and systems in their lives have both helped them and let them down.

Categories: Survival Sex/Sex Trafficking; Runaway and Homeless Youth; Healthcare; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Family Engagement

Durso, Laura E. and Gary J. Gates. 2012 “Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Services Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or at Risk of Becoming Homeless.” Los Angeles: The Williams Institute, True Colors Fund, and The Palette Fund.

This report presents data from a survey conducted that assessed the experiences of homeless youth organizations in providing services to LGBT youth and the prevalence of LGBT youth within the homeless populations being served by these organizations. Findings included: LGBT youth (homeless and non-homeless) make up approximately 40 percent of their clients; 68 percent of the LGBT homeless clients have experienced family rejection; 54 percent have experienced abuse in their family; and only about 25 percent of programs offered by agencies serving homeless and at-risk youth are designed specifically for LGBT youth.

Categories: Runaway and Homeless Youth

Estrada, Rudy and Jody Marksamer. 2006. “The Legal Rights of Young People in State Custody: What Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Professionals Need to Know When Working with LGBT Youth.”

This report covers the legal rights of LGBT individuals in state custody, as well as actions taken by staff or facilities that violate their civil rights. LGBT youth must be protected from harassment and violence from both staff and peers, must not be required to participate in any sort of conversion therapy, must be assisted in identifying community supports and resources in response to any sort of isolation or depression, must not be automatically classified as sex offenders or automatically placed in isolation, must be provided with appropriate healthcare (physical, mental, sexual), must not be punished for anything that their non-LGBT youth counterparts are not punished for, must not be moralized, ignored, or pathologized, and must not be placed in humiliating, embarrassing, or dangerous situations.

Note: There have been subsequent regulations (PREA) since the time of this publication.

Categories: Juvenile Defense; Staff Training; Secure Facilities; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Child Welfare

The Equity Project. 2015. “Toward Equity: A Training Curriculum for Understanding Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression, and Developing Competency to Serve Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.”

This training curriculum addresses the specific challenges and issues faced by LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system. It is adaptable for all juvenile justice system stakeholders from detention facility staff to policy advocates. The goal is to increase professional competency and knowledge of best practices. The lessons are: Understanding Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression; Dismantling Bias and Fostering Equity; Enhancing Communication and Building Trust with LGBT Youth; Reducing Risk and Promoting Protection; Ensuring Safety and Equity in Secure Settings; and Respecting and Supporting Transgender Youth.

Categories: Staff Training; Juvenile Defense; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention

The Equity Project 2015. “Toward Equity: Local Engagement Strategies 2015.”

This toolkit recommends strategies for engaging local communities in intensive site-based reform work related to the treatment of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system. It  emphasizes collaboration among various stakeholders in the juvenile justice system, the necessity for strong leadership support, the need for training on SOGIE-related issues, and the need for  written nondiscrimination policies with enumerated categories of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This toolkit contains sample questions, checklists, and related materials that correspond with these strategies.

Categories: Staff Training

Ferguson-Colvin, Kristin M. and Elaine M. Maccio. 2012. “Toolkit for Practitioners/Researchers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY).” National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections.

This toolkit focuses on the intersection of LGBTQ-related issues and runaway-homeless youth (RHY). An estimated 20-40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ (5-10 percent of the general youth population identifies as LGBTQ). The toolkit includes evidence-based and evidence-informed programs, practice models and assessment/evaluation tools; cultural sensitivity and standards of care training curricula; sample agency non-discrimination policies; findings from first-hand accounts; and the diversity of LGBTQ RHY across the spectrum of race, ethnicity, class/socioeconomic status, physical & mental abilities, spiritual/religious beliefs, and nation of origin/citizenship status.

Categories: Runaway and Homeless Youth

getR. E. A. L. California, Family Builders, Center for the Study of Social Policy, and National Center for Lesbian Rights. 2016. “Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Children in California Foster Care.”

The purpose of this brief is to support the efforts of California child welfare professionals to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) children in foster care. Using a question and answer format, the brief: Provides an overview of terms and concepts related to gender identity and expression, and accurate information about gender identity development; Provides accurate information on the impact of bias on the health and safety of TGNC children; and Describes legal and professional standards governing services to, and treatment of, TGNC children in the child welfare system.

Note: This resource is California-specific and may not be completely relevant for other states.

Categories:  Child Welfare

Hanssens, Catherine, Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, Andrea J. Ritchie, Dean Spade, and Urvashi Vaid. 2014. “A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living with HIV.” Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School.

This report recommends federal  policies that would benefit LGBT prisoners and PLWH (People Living With HIV) by preventing discriminatory and abusive policing processes, improving conditions and practices  in detention, de-criminalizing HIV, and preventing LGBT youth from coming into contact with the system when possible. The authors also recommend policies prohibiting the use of  condoms as evidence of intent to engage in sex work; increasing access to LGBT-inclusive sexual healthcare & gender-appropriate housing; prohibiting discriminatory targeting of LGBT individuals and PLWH by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects LGBT youth and youth of color; and treating contact by LGBT individuals and PLWH with the criminal justice system as a symptom of a larger issue that these communities experience higher rates of homelessness and poverty.

Categories: HIV; Healthcare; Survival Sex/Sex Trafficking; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention;  Police Relations; Staff Training

Hastings, Allison, Angela Browne, Kaitlin Kall, and Margaret diZerega. 2015. “Keeping Vulnerable Populations Safe under PREA: Alternative Strategies to the Use of Segregation in Prisons and Jails.” National PREA Resource Center.

This guide covers the proper implementation of the PREA standards to prevent sexual abuse of prisoners without arbitrary isolation. This includes a discussion of how to protect LGBTI individuals (including juveniles) in adult facilities. Specific for youth, this guide recommends that when possible youth should be kept in juvenile detention or a separate juvenile wing, but given the option to participate in congregate and other activities in the presence of adequate direct supervision. This guide explains the proper procedure for housing placements for LGBTI individuals under PREA, emphasizing a case-by-case approach to ensure best fit for all LGBTI individuals. This guide also calls for more education for staff on the proper treatment and terms to use when working with LGBTI individuals, as well as proper screening and monitoring to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBTI individuals.

Categories: PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Staff Training; Secure Facilities

Himmelstein, Kathryn E. W. and Hannah Brückner. 2010. “Criminal-Justice and School Sanctions Against Nonheterosexual Youth: A National Longitudinal Study.” Pediatrics (127)1.

This study shows that LGB youth, especially girls, are disproportionately sanctioned in school and the criminal justice system when compared to their heterosexual counterparts. The sanctions studied were school expulsion, police stops, juvenile arrest, juvenile conviction, adult arrest, and adult conviction, taking into account sociodemographics and illegal conduct. Causality requires further research, but the authors suggested that LGB youth are reprimanded and punished for reasons and behaviors that do not manifest with respect to heterosexual youth. In addition, these institutions fail to account for the harassment, abuse, and victimization that LGB youth experience. They may also blame LGB youth for their own victimization.

Categories: School to Prison Pipeline; Police Relations

Hunt, Jerome and Aisha Moodie-Mills. 2012. “The Unfair Criminalization of Gay and Transgender Youth: An Overview of the Experiences of LGBT Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.” Center for American Progress.

This report delves into the disproportionate representation of gay and transgender youth in the juvenile justice system (gay and transgender youth makeup 5-7 percent of the general youth population, but represent 13-15 percent of those in the in juvenile justice system – over 60 percent of which are black or Latino). Overrepresentation is due to conditions in the home environments (families and communities) and schools. LGBT youth face neglect, abandonment, harassment, and discrimination, which all contribute to their increased risk of entering the school-to-prison pipeline. Once in the system, policies and staff at all levels (from judges and district attorneys to law enforcement officers), can further harm these youth though criminalization/school sanctions, immediate and inaccurate sex offender labels, detainment for minor offenses, and deprivation of basic civil rights.

Categories: Secure Facilities; School-to-Prison Pipeline; Police Relations;  Juvenile Defense

Irvine, Angela. 2010 “We’ve Had Three of Them: Addressing the Invisibility of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Gender Nonconforming Youths in the Juvenile Justice System.” Columbia Journal of Gender and Law (10)3.

This article confronts the misconception that LGB and gender non-conforming youth are not commonly involved in the juvenile justice system by pointing out the obstacles they face to openly expressing their identities and presents a more accurate estimated of the percentage of LGB, questioning, transgender, and gender non-conforming youth – 15 percent. It describes and analyzes the patterns of incarceration and social context that contributes to these increased detention rates and offers suggestions to juvenile justice professionals on how to work in the best interest of these youths.

Note: More recent studies suggest that LGBT/GNC youth are even more overrepresented than this study found.

Categories: Secure Facilities; Staff Training

Irvine, Angela and Aisha Canfield. 2015. "The Overrepresentation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Questioning, Gender Nonconforming and Transgender Youth Withing the Child Welfare to Juvenile Justice Crossover Population." Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law. Volume 24, Issue 2.

This article delves into the overrepresentation of LGBQ and GNCT youth in both the juvenile justice and foster care systems. It notes that only 11% percent of straight youth in the juvenile justice system had a history of being removed from their home by social workers compared to 30% of LGBQ youth. In part, this is due to the home environments of the youth and the response of the social workers. This percentage only increases for LGBQ and GNCT youth of color, especiall LBQ girls of color. While LGBQ and GNCT youth are at a higher risk of physical abuse and being kicked out, this does not necessarily mean that the parents/guardians are not capable of caring for the youth. In fact, it has been found that confronting familial rejection helps parents/guardians understand the importance of their acceptance and has positive results for LGBQ and GNCT youth. It is important to involve considerations for the multiple identities of youth when enacting future reforms aimed at the juvneile justice and child welfare systems, or reforms aimed to benefit crossover youth in general.

Majd, Katayoon, Jody Marksamer, and Carolyn Reyes. 2009. “Hidden Injustice: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Juvenile Courts.” The Equity Project.

This report educates professionals working in the juvenile justice system about the continuing stigma against LGBT youth, the relevance of sexual orientation and gender identity in juvenile justice contexts, and the experiences of LGBT youth in the system; identifies obstacles to fair and equitable treatment of LGBT youth in delinquency and status offense cases; and recommends concrete practice and policy reforms that will protect the rights of LGBT youth and ensure that the system responds effectively to them.

Categories: Staff Training; Secure Facilities; School-to-Prison Pipeline; Juvenile Defense

Mallory, Christy, Brad Sears, Amira Hasenbush, and Alexandra Susman. 2014. “Ensuring Access to Mentoring Programs for LGBTQ Youth.” The Williams Institute.

This research looks into the lack of positive school, familial, social, and school environments for LGBTQ youth and the potential for that gap to be filled by youth mentoring programs. It explains that these unsafe/unaccepting environments can lead to an increase in harassment & discrimination, as well as an increased risk of drug & alcohol abuse and self-harm. This report estimates that 89 percent of LGBTQ youth have never had a formal mentor and 37 percent have never had a mentor of any kind (only 11 percent reported having a formal mentor). This gap could be addressed with LGBTQ-focused programs and LGBTQ-friendly internal and external policies and practices. If LGBTQ-protective requirements were attached to grants there could be enforcement of existing legal protections and adoption of new legal protections.

Categories: School-to-Prison Pipeline; Mentoring

Marksamer, Jody. 2011. “In Defense of LGBT Youth: Strategies to Help Juvenile Defenders Zealously Advocate for their LGBT Clients.” UC Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy 401.

This article outlines best practices for defense attorneys to advocate for their youth LGBT clients. Currently, defense attorneys with personal biases about gender and sexuality fail their LGBT youth clients when they do not work in the stated interests of their clients. The article recommends that defense attorneys practice in a way that accounts for the fact that any youth might be LGBT in order to create a LBGT-friendly environment and establish trust between attorney and client, noting that this is especially important because many youth will not be forthcoming with their LGBT status due to prior experiences of abuse, discrimination, rejection, etc. Secondly, this article explains that defense attorneys must advocate proper healthcare, housing, and detention alternatives. Lastly, defense attorneys must confront misconceptions of other professionals/staff charged, as they could negatively impact their client or the environment in which their client is to be judged.

Categories: Juvenile Defense; Secure Facilities

Mitchum, Preston and Aisha C. Moodie-Mills. 2014. “Beyond Bullying: How Hostile School Climate Perpetuates the School-to-Prison Pipeline for LGBT Youth.” Center for American Progress.

This report reveals the negative consequences of both peer-on-peer bullying and harsh school discipline policies for LGBT youth and youth of color. LGB youth are 3 times more likely to experience harsh disciplinary policies by school administrators, but this is not due to higher rates of misbehavior. Many LGBT youth do not trust school administrators and do not believe that they will ensure their safety and well-being. This failure of school policies, practices, and administrators only perpetuates the hostile environment and mistreatment of LGBT youth, as well as the school-to-prison pipeline.

Categories: School-to-Prison Pipeline

Moodie-Mills, Aisha C. and Christina Gilbert. 2014. “Restoring Justice: A Blueprint for Ensuring Fairness, Safety, and Supportive Treatment of LGBT Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.” Center for American Progress.

This policy brief estimates that 300,000 LGBT youth are arrested and/or detained each year – 60 percent of whom are black or Latino. Overall, there are about 13-15 percent LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system (LGBT youth only comprise 5-7 percent of the general youth population). This is due to both biased policies and officials. This brief notes that once in the system, LGBT youth continue to face harassment, abuse, discrimination, and unsafe conditions. This is recognized by both youth and professionals; 80 percent of juvenile justice professional respondents indicated that lack of safety for LGBT youth in detention is a serious concern. LGBT youth in detention are more likely to be disciplined for perceived dress code violations and public displays of affection, and are often do not have access to appropriate mental, physical, and sexual healthcare. At every level of the system and process, policies and practices need to be LGBT-friendly and affirming, from screening and intake to housing placement and available programs.

Categories: Secure Facilities; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Staff Training

Movement Advancement Project and Center for American Progress. 2016. “Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People.”

This report delves into the factors that increase the chance of LGBT people ending up involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, the specific challenges LGBT people face in these systems, and how to fix the current broken systems. Discrimination and stigma in communities, policies, and enforcement of laws/policies, and enforcement disproportionately affect LGBT people and result in higher rates of contact with law enforcement and entering the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems. At the same time, these factors leave LGBT individuals very few resources to advocate for themselves. Once LGBT people have entered the system, they face further discrimination in both legal proceedings and the treatment in confinement facilities. Often, their sexual orientation or gender identity is used against them in legal proceedings by judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. In facilities, they are often placed in solitary confinement at higher rates and are not properly protected from sexual assault. Once they leave the system and re-enter society, LGBT people struggle to find sexual orientation and gender identity-affirming probation, housing, health care, and employment. Lastly this report provides recommendations for confronting the aforementioned problems: how to reduce the disproportionate amount of LGBT people who come into contact with law enforcement; how to improve access to justice for LGBT people, both in the courtroom and while in confinement to ensure safety; and how to support LGBT people who reenter society.  

Categories: Secure Facilities; Juvenile Defense; Reentry

National Center for Lesbian Rights. 2006. “The Legal Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.”

This is a summary of the legal rights of LGBT youth in custody. It explains that LGBT youth are particularly vulnerable to abuse by other youth and therefore policies and practices must prevent this through proper placement that is not automatically isolation. A youth’s SOGIE does not indicate whether or not they are a sex offender and any classification policy linking the two infringes upon the basic rights of LGBT youth. Additionally, appropriate medical and mental healthcare must be made available to LGBT youth – this includes prevention of “conversion therapies,” as well as access to care for Gender Identity Disorder for transgender youth. Lastly, LGBT youth should never be forced or required to participate in religious activities that condemn them.

Note: There have been subsequent regulations (PREA) since the time of this publication.

Categories: PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Juvenile Defense; Staff Training; Secure Facilities

NYC Administration for Children’s Services and LGBTQ Children, Youth & Families. 2014. “Safe & Respected: Policy, Best Practices, & Guidance for Serving Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Children and Youth Involved in the Child Welfare, Detention, and Juvenile Justice Systems.”

This guide outlines the ways in which the juvenile justice system and professionals can better serve transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) children and youth. Not only are TGNC youth overrepresented in the juvenile justice system, but also they face high rates of physical and sexual assault when incarcerated. Professionals must be aware of this risk and the past experiences of many TGNC youth (due to unsafe and unsupportive home and school environments, TGNC youth have high rates of sex work, homelessness, suicide, and low academic achievement). The best practices for working with TGNC youth include using preferred name, pronouns, and identity language, regardless of religious and personal beliefs. Additionally, professionals should never suggest that TGNC youth change their gender identity expression as a means to reduce discrimination/harassment. If TGNC youth are to be placed in housing, it must be safe, gender-appropriate, and with staff who understand the needs of TGNC youth. Lastly, this guide notes that disclosure of gender identity/sexual orientation is up to each individual and this information should only be shared with professionals who need to know.

Categories: Staff Training; Secure Facilities; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. 2014. “LGBTQ Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.”

This brief summary notes that a disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth are involved in the juvenile justice system. Due to harassment and victimization from home and school environments, many LGBTQ youth leave these environments, resulting in truancy, drop-out, homelessness, survival sex, dating violence, and depression. It encourages juvenile justice professionals, policies, practices, and other associated systems to create safe environments for LGBTQ youth that are free from discrimination, violence, and harassment. If detained in a juvenile (or adult) correctional facility, LGBTQ youth have an elevated risk for harassment, assault, and abuse, and spend prolonged periods in isolation. While these LGBTQ youth must be protected, isolation should not be the automatic policy; instead, facilities should follow the PREA guidelines that call for individualized housing placements.

Categories: PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Staff Training; Secure Facilities

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. 2016. "OJJDP Listening Session REport: Creating and Sustaining Fair and Beneficial Environments for LGBTQ Youth."

This listening sessions summarizes the remarks of those experts who were invited to speak at the listening session. It also includes recommendations on policy and program development and training and technical assistance, including requiring nodiscrimination clauses based on SOGIE for contractors and subcontractors, focusing on policy that creates overall "cultural change",  incorporating the practical experiences and voices of youth in policy changes, providing ongoing coaching in addition to mandatory training for facilities, administratos, judges, prosecutors, etc., and more.

Polaris. 2015. “Breaking Barriers: Improving Services for LGBTQ Human Trafficking Victims: A Top Ten List for Service Providers and Criminal Justice Professionals.”

This list outlines the best practices for serving LGBTQ youth trafficking victims. It recommends utilizing existing community networks that provide services to these individuals. In addition, this list calls for the training of all professionals involved in the juvenile justice system & associated organizations/institutions. This includes a protocol that identifies and helps LGBTQ youth who are victims of sex trafficking instead of prosecuting them and ensures that these victims are safe from both external (traffickers) and internal (assault/harassment from peers/staff) threats. Additionally, LGBTQ youth should not be prosecuted for consensual sexual activities. This list also notes that the intake process should be nondiscriminatory, base treatment and services on a youth’s self-identification, and respect the confidentiality of each youth. The policies and practices of facilities should be inclusive to all sexualities and gender identities/expressions (including housing placements and staff/volunteers who are representative of diversity of the youth they serve) and in many cases individualized on a case-by-case basis.

Categories: Survival Sex/Sex Trafficking; PREA/Sexual Abuse Prevention; Child Welfare; Staff Training; Secure Facilities; Police Relations

Redman, Daniel. 2010. “ ‘I was Scared to Sleep’: LGBT Youth Face Violence Behind Bars.” The Nation.

This article puts a personal face on statistics about the disproportionate representation of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system with true stories and experiences of individuals. It focuses on the story of Krystal, a transwoman in the Louisiana juvenile justice system, nothing how her story is representative of the experience of many LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system. Significant statistics from this article include: LGBT youth report sexual assault by peers at 12 times the rate of their heterosexual and gender-normative counterparts; LGBT youth are twice as likely to report abuse in their home; around 25 percent of LGBT youth leave their homes due to force, rejection, abuse, etc.; and 20-40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT. Stories in this article show that LGBT youth are faced with attempts of harmful conversion therapies though religious intervention and “medical facilities,” as well as automatically being categorized as sexual offenders. Lastly, this article covers successful reforms in a few states, showing that training empowers staff to protect and act in the best interest of LGBT youth, while detailing the consequences of discrimination and infringement upon the rights of LGBT youth.

Categories: Secure Facilities

Rummell, Christian L. and Jeffrey M. Poirier. 2014. “Fact Sheet: Improving Services for Youth Who Are LGBT in Juvenile Justice Systems.” The National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center.

This fact sheet focuses on how to improve the environment and services for LGBT youth in juvenile justice systems. It notes the importance of understanding the backgrounds of LGBT youth – whether their home environment was safe and accepting, if they suffered harassment in school, their higher rates of stress, risk-taking behavior, and homelessness, and the disproportionate punishment they face for behaviors that go unpunished/have smaller consequences for their heterosexual and gender-normative counterparts. Once in the juvenile justice system, LGBT youth are discriminated against in a number of ways resulting in unaccepting – and sometimes unsafe – environments and inadequate treatment & services. This fact sheet walks through the proper policy and practice recommendations, breaking them down into 10 standards with tips to accompany each standard.

Categories: Secure Facilities; Staff Training

Southern Poverty Law Center. 2016. Entitled to Treatment: Medical Care for Transgender Adolescents in the Juvenile Justice System.

This publication explains that juvenile detention facilities have a legal obligation to provide transition-related healthcare to transgender youth in their custody. It contains general policy recommendations as well as a model policy for providing LGBT-affirming healthcare in juvenile detention settings.

Categories: Secure Facilities; Staff Training; Healthcare

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2014. “A Practitioner’s Resource Guide: Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children.”

This resource guide is aimed at health and social service practitioners who encounter families that do not initially accept their LGBT children. The aim is to meet families “where they are,” not to change their values. It outlines the method for this family-oriented approach that explains the importance of family acceptance and the risks of family rejection. By explaining these potential negative outcomes (suicide, homelessness, out-of-home placement, etc.) families can become more supportive over time. This guide suggests that practitioners allow parents/caregivers to tell their story in a safe, nonjudgmental space, provide the family with appropriate language to use when discussing sexual orientation and gender identity, followed by educating them on the risks of rejection and the benefits of support. Practitioners should not aim to completely change the value system of the family, but make small changes that could potentially open the door for more incremental acceptance.

Categories: Family Engagement; Healthcare

Valentino, Amanda. 2011. “Part 1: LGBTQ Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.” LGBT Litigator.

This article briefly discusses the importance of training & education for defense attorneys who interact with LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice system. Evidence shows that youth are aware and experiencing their first same-sex attraction and experience at young ages, so it is inaccurate to dismiss LGBTQ youth as too young to know what they feel. Furthermore, these attorneys must be aware and knowledgeable of the impact of the discrimination of LGBTQ youth on the frequency of LGBTQ youth entering juvenile justice systems, and the discrimination that LGBTQ youth face once incarcerated from both peers and staff. Therefore, many youth will not be open about their sexual orientation/gender identity. Attorneys should develop a practice of creating a LGBTQ-friendly environment that accounts for the fact that any client could be LGBTQ and not just alter their practice if they assume an individual is LGBTQ.

Categories: Juvenile Defense; Secure Facilities; Staff Training

Wilber, Shannan, Caitlin Ryan, and Jody Marksamer. 2006. “CWLA Best Practice Guidelines: Serving LGBT Youth in Out-of-Home Care.” Child Welfare League of America.

These detailed guidelines address both child welfare and juvenile justice professionals. These guidelines can be adapted to support policies and reforms to better the care and environments of LGBT youth, as well as create training materials and guidance for professionals/staff. The 8 chapters are organized as follows: Chapter 1 discusses the effect of experiences & social conditions have on the contact of LGBT youth with child welfare & juvenile justice systems; Chapter 2 covers practices & policies that create LGBT-friendly cultures & environments for social welfare & juvenile justice agencies; Chapter 3 conveys the role of families and details how to keep LGBT youth connected to their families; Chapter 4 emphasizes the responsibility that child welfare and juvenile justice agencies have to promote the health and well-being of LGBT youth by providing appropriate services and recreational outlets; Chapter 5 details how to maintain confidentiality and work in the best interest of LGBT youth; Chapter 6 explains the necessity for appropriate homes & caregivers for LGBT youth; Chapter 7 describes appropriate placements for LGBT youth in institutional settings; and Chapter 8 relays the importance of both physical and mental health, as well as educational opportunities for LGBT youth in child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Categories: Child Welfare; Family Engagement; Secure Facilities; Healthcare; Staff Training

If you have an addition, please email a summary and a link to the publication to

This resource list was compiled and summarized by Audrey Eisemann, Project Associate, Communications and Youth Engagement, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, on behalf of the Juvenile Justice Working Group of the LGBT Criminal Justice Working Group.