Sending Office: Honorable Donna E. Shalala
Cosponsor the Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act of 2019
Endorsed By: HRC
Cosponsors: Shalala, Panetta, Pappas, Carbajal, Castor, Cicilline, Cisneros, Clarke (NY), Cox, Craig, Crist, Davids (KS), Doyle, Espaillat, Foster, Garcia (IL), Garcia (TX), Grijalva, Haaland, Hastings, Hill (CA),
Holmes Norton, Jackson Lee, Johnson (GA), Kennedy, Khanna, Kildee, Kilmer, Krishnamoorthi, Kuster, Lee (CA), Levin (MI), Lowenthal, Maloney SP (NY), Matsui, McGovern, Meng, Moore, Morelle, Moulton, Murphy, Napolitano, Omar, Payne Jr., Pingree, Pocan, Porter,
Quigley, Rouda, Ruiz, Ryan, Sablan, Scanlon, Schakowsky, Sires, Soto, Speier, Takano, Tlaib, Underwood, Watson Coleman, Welch, Wexton, Wild, Wilson (FL)
Research shows that Black and Hispanic LGBTQ youth entering the juvenile justice system have higher rates of child abuse, neglect, family conflict, and homelessness as other youth. Since they still depend on their families to meet their material needs, abuse
and neglect can leave Black and Hispanic LGBTQ youth emotionally and physically vulnerable, particularly if they find themselves contemplating living on the streets with nowhere to turn for support.
Many Black and Hispanic LGBTQ youth leave their homes to escape the conflict and emotional or physical abuse that can ensue. Homelessness is a leading predictor of involvement within the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. A recent report by The
Prison Policy Initiative found a strong link between incarceration and homelessness among formerly incarcerated people. But while examining racial and age disparities among that population, researchers weren’t able to address the root causes of how homelessness
affects LGBTQ youth — especially Black and Latino LGBTQ youth who are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system.
A 2015 study found that 20% of all youth in the juvenile justice system identified as LGBTQ or gender nonconforming, even
though they composed only 5 to 7% of the total U.S. youth population. According to a Center for American Progress report, homelessness is the greatest
predictor of involvement with the juvenile justice system, and 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Once homeless and with few resources at hand, LGBTQ youth are pushed towards criminalized behaviors such as drug sales, theft, or survival sex, which increase
their risk of arrest and detainment.
LGBTQ youth of color — particularly Black youth — are at an increased risk of criminalization. A UCLA School of Law 2014 survey of human service providers
serving homeless youth, for instance, reported that 31% of the LGBTQ youth they served identified as African-American or Black, despite Black youth making up only 14% of the general youth population. The racial disparities in youth homelessness contribute
to the overrepresentation of youth of color in juvenile facilities in general; in 2015, 2 out of 3 youth in juvenile facilities were either Black, Hispanic, or American Indian.
These alarming statistics remind us that Black and Hispanic LGBTQ youth will remain at higher risks of both homelessness and incarceration if we don’t act to address abuse at an earlier time. In the child welfare field, A 2006 field
report by the Child Welfare League of America conducted thirteen community forums with more than 500 LGBTQ youth in foster care from 22 states, found that participants expressed a strong need for foster parents who are affirming of their LGBTQ identities and
group homes that are specifically designed to provide safety, protection and support. More data and better reporting by our agencies is needed to mitigate this crisis.
For these reasons, I invite you to join me and over 60 of our colleagues in cosponsoring the
Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act. It is imperative that our laws provide appropriate oversight and supervision so that Black and Hispanic LGBTQ youth who are at risk of harm are, and continue to be, safe and appropriately cared for.
The Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act would amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to:
- Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with other federal agencies and recognized experts in the field, to carry out an interdisciplinary research program to protect LGBTQ youth from child abuse and neglect and to improve the
well-being of victims of child abuse or neglect
- Expand demographic information collected to include sexual orientation and gender identity when reporting on incidences of prevalence of child maltreatment
- Include sexual orientation and gender identity as demographic characteristics in a report compiled by the Secretary
- Open grant funding opportunities for the training of personnel in best practices to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ youth
- Include individuals experienced in working with LGBTQ youth and families in state task forces
If you have any questions or wish to cosponsor, please contact
Christofer.Horta@mail.house.gov by email or by telephone at (202) 225-3931.
Donna E. Shalala
Member of Congress
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