Real Pride: Spotlight on Programs for LGBTQ Youth

Juvenile Law Center,

Juvenile Law Center fights to protect the rights of LGBTQ youth in the justice and child welfare systems, as well as the rights of youth exiting those systems.

Our Youth Matters: Philly app is designed for Philly youth, including LGBTQ youth or youth facing homelessness, to quickly find and access local resources and programs. We joined our partners across the country to condemn the Executive Order allowing faith based organizations to accept federal funds while refusing to serve LGBTQ youth.

As we close out Pride month, we’re shining a spotlight on three organizations and their work focusing on LGBTQ youth across the country: Project HOME, BreakOUT!, and Lambda Legal.

Project HOME is a Philly-based organization dedicated to empowering adults, children, and families to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. BreakOUT! seeks to end criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans, and Lambda Legal is the nation’s first and largest legal organization for LGBTQ civil rights.

Homes for LGBTQ Youth

More and more youth are experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia and across the country. Nationally, 18- to 23-year-olds are the fastest growing group of people facing homelessness. Nationwide, LGBTQ youth are at high risk of becoming homeless due to rejection from family and communities – 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.

In March 2017, Project HOME announced their plans to break ground on 30 units of affordable permanent housing for youth ages 18-23 - specifically youth who identify as LGBTQ. Project HOME’s previous development also reserved units for young adults and LGBTQ youth, but the upcoming housing development will be Pennsylvania’s first housing development for LGBTQ youth experiencing homeless. Project HOME's goal is to create a safe place for people who identity as LGBTQ and will ensure that all "good neighbor" meetings and groups will be trauma-informed, designed tu uphold the dignity of every resident. Project HOME will break ground on the housing development in September, 2017. Learn more about Project HOME and their programs for young adults here.

Photo courtesy of Project HOME, rendering of planned resident at 1315 N. 8th Street.

BreakOUT!’s Youth-Led Vice to ICE Program

On Thursday, New Orleans-based youth-led organization, BreakOUT!, released the Vice to ICE Toolkit, a bilingual resource for community organizers and member-based organizations.

Vice to ICE is an anti-criminalization campaign started in 2011 as a partnership between BreakOUT! and the Congreso (or Congress of Day Laborers), centering on the intersections of LGBTQ identity and immigration status. At the time, New Orleans Vice officers were targeting Black transgender young women and profiling people as being involved in the sex trade. Vice officers raided hotels where homeless LGBTQ youth of color lived and charged people with Solicitation of Crimes Against Nature and prostitution. At the same time, the New Orleans police were using ICE officials as translators whenever stopping a Spanish-speaking person on the street, in a car, or in domestic violence calls. NOPD and ICE collaborated on huge raids of Latinx people suspected of being undocumented.

Photo credit: Fernando Lopez, courtesy of BreakOUT!

BreaktOUT! and Congreso recognized their common struggle: the profiling, criminalization, and removal of LGBTQ youth and specific communities of color. Since 2011, Vice to Ice has achieved important wins: NOPD has an LGBTQ policy prohibiting profiling based on gender identity, new policies prevent NOPD from profiling residents based on suspected immigration status and from actively partnering with ICE on immigration raids, and Orleans Parish Sheriff has refused to submit to ICE detainers (except in cases involving serious felonies).

Click here to check out the toolkit.

Identity-Affirming Care and Treatment for Youth

In April, Lambda Legal issued a national policy report on out-of-home care practices and statutes that fail to appropriately serve transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. The report includes first-of-their-kind national maps of statutes, policies, and licensing regulations related to sexual orientation or gender identity and expression; these maps reveal which protections do or do not exist in all 50 states. The report includes recommendations for reform and tips for practitioners to better serve and protect TGNC youth.

Lambda Legal also reported an important win for LGBTQ youth in Florida's child welfare system: the first-ever explicit legal protections inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity in the South. The new rules include an end to harassing LGBTQ youth or treating them differently just because of who they are, and an end to conversion therapy in group homes. Learn more about Lambda Legal’s work on behalf of teens and young adults here.

We applaud the vital work of these dedicated partners who fight to protect the rights of LGBTQ youth across the country!