Restoring Justice: A Blueprint for Fair Treatment of LGBT Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

By Aisha C. Moodie-Mills and Christina Gilbert

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, youth continue to be significantly over-represented in the nation’s juvenile justice system, even as overall rates of youth incarceration are on the decline. The Obama administration has made unprecedented strides to address the drivers of LGBT youth incarceration, but far less attention has been paid to the unjust experiences and poor conditions that LGBT youth encounter within the system. These include unsafe detention settings, inadequate medical and mental health resources, and blatant disrespect and disregard for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Fortunately, more than a dozen states and jurisdictions around the country are actively addressing the disproportionate representation and discriminatory treatment of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system. These programs and policies work against the systemic inequities that undermine fair and just treatment of these youth and derail their transition back into their communities. Taken together, these existing policies form the blueprint for supporting LGBT youth and serve as a real-time case study in what works.

Learn more about the model juvenile justice policies that treat LGBT youth with dignity and respect.