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LGBT Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

By Rachel L. West
Advocacy & Community Outreach Consultant

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released a guide on juvenile detention reform as it pertains to the treatment of LGBT youth. LGBT youth make up a disproportionate number of adolescents in the juvenile justice system yet many jurisdictions lack politics that sufficiently address heterosexism and harassment with regard to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

The guide provides an overview of terminology related to sexual orientations, gender identity, and gender expression. Additionally it offers a profile of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system as well as information on how detention centers can establish inclusive and respectful policies. The section on creating a fair, inclusive and respectful culture includes actual examples of policies implemented by juvenile detention centers. Key points include:

  • Use of interdisciplinary teams that include LGBT youth and their family in the policy process.
  • Providing clear guidance and training to all staff and contractors who will have contact with youth.
  • Clear enforcement procedures to address non-compliances.
  • Creating an open and supportive environment by having staff use nonverbal and environmental ques such as displaying LGBT affirmative symbols.

You can download the guide here.

Related Articles:

How Do We Support LGBT Students

The Unmet Needs of LGBT Youth: Social Welfare System Failures in the US

Supporting LGBT Homeless Youth


Photo Credit: By U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Department of Homeland Security) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted by Rachel L. West

In addition to being the founder of The Political Social Worker blog, I am a consultant. My consulting practice offers advocacy and community outreach solutions to nonprofits, social good organizations, and private practitioners. Additionally, I offer career coaching to macro social work students and professionals.

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