Being Queer in a Juvenile Detention Center: A Survivor's Story

Sasha, Youth Advocate in Juveniles for Justice, The Advocate •
Photo of youth behind jail bars.

I grew up in a positive environment with my grandparents, friends, and family where I was comfortable. For me life was much easier at home and I didn’t feel backlash for my sexual orientation or my gender expression until I went to placement, aka a juvenile detention center, for fighting at school. From the moment I arrived at my first placement facility I immediately felt like the black sheep. I was instantly stereotyped, by staff and other kids in placement. I felt like there was always an extra set of eyes on me. Staff directly treated me differently because of my preference. It started to become so uncomfortable, and only got worse. I ended up in a relationship with another girl at the placement and because we got into a fight, staff insinuated and accused me of forcing the other girls to be with me. But that’s not what happened. When I tried to tell them my side, no one listened. It got to the point where I had to have a room by myself with no roommate. It continued to get worse.