You are on page 1of 9

**LGBT Youth Symposium** 10.19.

13 Caitlyn Ryan, Director Family Acceptance Project: Generating a Revolution in Prevention, Wellness and Care for LGBT Children and Youth 1. Currently: negative outcomes that affect LGBT youth estranged from their families 2. Primary Institutions that socialize and support children and youth a. Families b. Schools c. Faith communities 3. Families a. Lack of Family services i. Surveyed all youth programs, LGBT centers etc. in CA over various years ii. Found that there were very few activities or services with LGBT children or youth iii. Family seen as enemy or adversary 1. Too sensitive a subject to address with vulnerable young people b. Impact of family acceptance and rejection on health and mental health i. Sexual health issues 1. High levels of rejection are directly correlated with high risk for HIV infection (212% more likely) ii. Substances abuse 1. High levels of rejection are directly correlated with high risk for HIV infection (382% more likely) iii. Depression iv. Suicide 1. High levels of rejection are directly correlated with high risk suicide attempt (501% more likely) v. Self-esteem vi. Social support vii. Life satisfaction viii. Sense of the future c. Process of researching LGBT youth and families i. Qualitative study (interview study ages 13-18, 100 + family behaviors) ii. Young adult survey (ages 21-25) iii. Family briefing sessions (ethnically diverse families) iv. Family Interventions (ethnically diverse families with LGBT, questioning and gender variant children) v. Results: so many families would have behaved/reacted differently had they known what to do/been able to access resources 1. Also: Not acceptable to dismiss hostile families; they are capable of growing/changing/adapting d. Examples of family rejection reactions i. Silence ii. Denial iii. Attempt to change the LGBT youths sexual orientation iv. Restricting access to LGBT positive information e. Examples of family supportive reactions i. Supporting gender expression ii. Believing a good life is possible iii. Advocate for them iv. Welcome LGBT friends/partners into the home f. Takeaways: i. Family rejection linked with detrimental health and mental health effects 1. Primary source of out-of-home status for LGBT youth ii. Family acceptance an important protective factor/promotes well being g. Conceptual shifts i. Families are potential allies for their children




ii. Families want the best for their children 1. Even if rejection; it comes from fear iii. Parents families and caregivers have the capacity to support their LGBT children iv. Family rejecting behaviors are motivated by care and concern 1. Even if subconscious Tools to rehabilitate family support i. Parent and provider education/support materials 1. In multiple languages 2. Faith-based materials a. Understanding how those faith-based values can still be conducive to supporting LGBT youth ii. Risk assessment screener 1. Physicians/providers having dialogue about sexual orientation/gender identity with adolescents iii. These tools shift the frame from preventing harm to promoting well-being 1. Low cost, low tech, etc. Impact of writing families off i. Lack of family buffer against stigma ii. High levels of health disparities, homelessness custodial care iii. Children and youth lose access to protective factors from their culture, ethnicity and family iv. Loss of critical health information and guidance to help parents and caregivers nurture and support LGBT children v. Children change parents and families- loss of intrinsic catalyst for social change FILM: Families Are Forever i. Mormon family actively supporting Prop 8 with gay son

Panel: Challenges Facing LGBT Youth 1. Youth and Foster Care: M. Currey Cook (Senior Staff Attorney, Youth Out-of-Home Care Project, Lambda Legal) a. Hopeful note: positive developments in recent history re: educated foster parents/transparency/visibility b. However: i. LGBTQ youth still very over-represented in the foster care system 1. Especially transgendered youth, who face adversity and physical violence, exit the system with nothing ii. These systems in general dont function well, for any child- much less LGBTQ youth iii. Overrepresentation of youth of color iv. Institutionalized homophobia and discrimination c. Why these systems are obligated to do better: i. Under federal law, foster system obligated to seek well-being for youth 1. Difficult because these re state-based systems ii. Lawyers as necessary zealous advocates 1. Also true for social workers iii. If they are using federal monies, they cant discrimante generally: specific ally based on sexual orientation/gender identity d. Question of how to deal with youths disclosing information i. Emphasis on an open forum ii. But while maintaining privacy of data collection e. What are reasonable efforts? i. Using information about unifying families, etc. 1. If you arent doing this, you ARENT meeting a reasonable effort standard ii. Making sure that the D in discretion (discretionary funding etc.) doesnt match the D in discrimination



Systems Deficiencies that Prevent True Culturally Competent Services in the Juvenile Justice System: Kimberley Forte (Supervising Attorney, LGBT Law and Policy Initiative, The Legal Aid Society, New York City) a. LGBTQ youth more likely to be arrested expelled from school, etc. b. Story of social workers/foster systems not culturally competent to handle transgender youth: Electra i. There is only one program that works with trans boys and girls: Boston, Surviving Our Struggles ii. Devastating lack of diversion services c. Other issues include lack of solidarity/community among social services i. No space of affirmation where young people can live together in a supportive way d. Placement of youth in both foster care and detention facilities unreceptive to gender identity i. Exception: Hawaii e. Increased levels of psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse for LGBT youth in prisons f. Need for educating prison staff and ensuring safety of LGBT inmates g. Moral of story/next steps: i. We need Caitlyn Ryan everywhere ii. Equitable diversion services for LGBT youth iii. Safe Harbor policies do not ensure non-discrimination iv. Non-discrimination policies useless if not executed or if improperly executed Criminalization of LGBT Youth: Aisha Moodie-Mills (Senior Fellow and Director, FIRE Initiative Center for American Progress) a. Challenges with school climate i. School climate has become synonymous with bullying 1. Significant effort to curb bullying since October of 2011 a. Almost every state has some policy in state specific to bullying b. The consistency and reach of the legislation is mixed, however i. Policies too broad- takes away from their efficacy 2. 6/10 LGB and 8/10 T students report feeling unsafe at school 3. 85% of LGBT report being victimized 4. 20% of LGBT report being physically assaulted 5. LGBT discrimination in schools is not prohibited on a federal level a. We must go state by state b. Important that we dont create a system that criminalizes bullies i. Zero tolerance policies are problematic ii. Pushes students out of schools ii. Other critical indicator: school discipline policies (school prison pipeline) 1. Unprecedented number of youth victims of overly-strict school policies, funneled into prison systems a. Ex. Dress code violations, other minor violations 2. Problem: there is no evidence to suggest that harsh zero tolerance improves school safety a. Instead, they funnel youth into prisons at an alarming rate b. Becomes a cycle 3. Gender non-conforming youth especially vulnerable to prison pipeline a. Example: Transgender youth wearing other-gendered clothing, facing overly severe punishment such as 2 week suspension b. Bias application of discipline policy is clear via the data collection

KEYNOTE: Martha Albertson Fineman, The Vulnerability Theory and LGBT Youth



Current acronym: LGBTQIA a. Q: queer/questioning, I: interesexed, A: ally;asexual b. Cisgender: gender identity matches biology c. Bi-gender: fluid mixed masculine and feminine qualities i. More specific than gender queer ii. More broad than transgender d. Fineman approves of the development of new terms i. Increases/promotes dialogue ii. Construction of a universal framework iii. Trying to find explanatory power that they cannot find in traditional categories Vulnerability a. Inherent component of what it means to be human b. Challenges neo liberal assertions such as: i. Answer to our problems is personal responsibility ii. Only a restrained state can be a responsive state c. Societys failures have been herded together as designated population i. Political and legal response is surveillance and regulation ii. Response can be 1. Punitive: prisons 2. Paternalistic: to elderly, children, etc. 3. Both have stigma: marking subjects as deviant d. Labeling a population as vulnerable essentially sets them up for failure i. Disabled people ii. Undocumented immigrants iii. Impoverished e. In fact, we are all vulnerable. i. When you use only the lens of discrimination, you paint a distorted picture that can be pernicious f. Dangers of labeling a population as vulnerable i. Ignores their differences ii. Also obscures the similarities they share with society at large iii. Suggestive that the rest of us are NOT vulnerable, and that we are fundamentally superior 1. But theres no such thing as a position of invulnerability g. Fundamental question: i. What should be the political and legal implications of the fact that we are embodied beings, which means we all are born, live and die within a fragile materiality that renders all of us constantly susceptible to both internal and external forces beyond out control? 1. Vulnerability theory answers this. h. A state of dependence is not deviant, but natural and inevitable. i. Resilience is not something were born with, but thats accumulated over our lifetime i. Insufficient levels of resilience should not be punished ii. Individual failure is perhaps primarily a societal failure j. Vulnerability on an individual level is particular, varied and unique k. Appropriate legal measures is to improve non-discrimination practices l. Its not appropriate to assess relative vulnerability, but rather to assess relative resilience. i. Allows us to assess societys responsibility to all its members, not just marginalized groups. m. What are the resources that can be used to assess resilience? i. Physical resources ii. Human resources iii. Social resources 1. Incl. family, but also political parties iv. Ecological resources v. Existential resources


The reality is that we NEED the state. i. Cannot stand up against corporate evils, etc., without it. What does all of this have to do with LGBTQIA youth? a. Vulnerability theory would move beyond discrimination b. Ask if there are patterns that suggest that a more comprehensive analysis is warranted c. geography of youth i. home and school ii. where young people build their resilience/understand their place in society d. the reality is that many schools do not/cannot respond to the bullying epidemic e. also, schools no longer teach civil virtue i. essential skills in a diverse democracy ii. focus on civility f. Lets build resilient schools to help build resilient students and resilient youth i. But parents must make sure that children participate ii. Privacy rights 1. Tremendous veto power given to parents re: states power to endorse tolerance/community/nonviolence 2. There needs to be a safe space for children whose parents are failing them 3. A childs interest in his/her education is PARAMOUNT in determining the adult they will become, and this is minimized by privacy and parental rights


PANEL: Evolving Views on LGBT Identities 1. The Gender Role Development and Sexual Orientation of the Children of LGBT Parents (Carlos Ball; Professor of Law Rutgers School of Law) a. Are there differences between the children of LGBT parents and straight parents? Yes. i. Gender role development: children of LGBT parents do not adhere to gender roles as strictly as do those with straight parents 1. Toy preference, dress preferences, career preferences 2. Girls of lesbian mothers were less traditionally feminine in their dress choices a. Expressed interest in careers regularly dominated by men 3. Child play preferences less gender normative with gay parents ii. Also, sexual orientation is different 1. Many studies have found no differences, some have 2. Boys of lesbian mothers: no difference 3. Girls of lesbian mothers: many have had at least one same-sex relationship a. Also more likely to enter into a lesbian relationship b. 20% identified as bisexual iii. What do these findings mean? 1. There MAY be small differences 2. These studies dont expose WHY these correlations exist a. Maybe objects of the study more likely to admit same-sex relationships, etc. iv. Do these differences matter? 1. Theyre constitutionally irrelevant Gender Policing in Small-Town America: The Hidden Vulnerability of Rural Boys and Men (Luke Boso; Associate Professor of Law) a. Boys will be boys attitude is ineffable, makes coming out difficult/impossible b. Male sex stereotyping cases i. Anti-gay slurs, gestures, violence: judges reason c. Focus on men and masculinity can actually help women too i. Normative masculinity defined in opposition to things d. Rural men broadcast as rough and tough, in control of their surroundings



i. Men expected to breadwinners Transgender Youth (Shannon Price Minter, Legal Director National Center for Lesbian Rights) a. Problem of presuming that young people will be exiled from their families i. Focus on safe spaces outside the family ii. Need to focus on keeping young people IN their families b. Emergence of new generation of transgender kids who at very early ages are openly identifying themselves as transgender i. Also new generation of parents ii. Cant plausibly have resources for kids this young outside of the families- so the need to work with the families is even clearer c. Transgender youth issues i. Access to bathrooms 1. Schools need to provide institutional support 2. Argument that socializing for girls occurs in bathrooms 3. Gender neutral vs. gender elective bathrooms ii. Need to expand the way that we advocate for young people d. Conclusion: we all need to lift our sights, creating a world where LGBT youth arent just tolerated, we should be trying to make sure that they are fully supported, protected, included and celebrated- this will be enormously beneficial and transformative for all children and all families.

My question for Shannon: I appreciate that you emphasize the importance of a safe space within the family for trans youth- but how do you reconcile this with the need for professional counseling when complex transspecific issues like dysphoria begin to surface? Optimally, in your vision, should the family be dealing with these as well? His answer: Professional counseling services are an invaluable asset to trans youth and should be seen as a(n often necessary) supplement to supportive families. There are some bad eggs in the medical community, but for the most part therapists who make themselves available to trans youth and adolescents are well versed in the field and abreast of recent developments.

PANEL: The Role of the State 1. The Supportive State and LGBT Youth (Maxine Eichner; Professor of Law, UNC School of Law) a. In the US, we have largely in the past approached issues surrounding youth through the framework of parental autonomy i. Liberal theorists have started to recognize that individual liberty is not the only concern; equality and others are also important b. Viewfinder of court: parental autonomy i. Years later, we can recognize that while parental autonomy is important, so is pluralism c. But, we must also recognize the autonomy of the youth i. We must foster civil virtues 1. Cant restrain peoples rights just because you dont like them 2. Cant make restrictions based on personal morality ii. We cant view the rights of LGBT youth as separate from parents 1. Kids generally need their parents 2. This relationship is a fundamental one d. What happens when parents indoctrinate their children with homophobia? i. Parental autonomy too black and white here: families dont function like a black box



ii. To the extent that the state can, families should be educated (this is NOT a coercive strategy by any means) 1. The state could treat this like a public health issue a. Like Michelle Obamas obesity campaign 2. There is a virtue of democratic equality at issue 3. Schools are the appropriate places to educate on these issues: having liberal respect for same-sex relationships 4. Parents shouldnt be allowed to opt their parents out of these programs e. How to think about parents who have LGBT kids i. First thing the state should do is try to align the parents interest with the kid 1. Family Alliance Project ii. If parents dont buy that, next option is to short up childrens well being outside the family 1. Community programs, etc. iii. Lets remember: foster care is worst case scenario/last resort 1. Best to do whatever possible to keep children in their families Class, Sexuality, Youth and the Role of the State (Julie Nice, Professor of Law U. of San Francisco School of Law) a. Lets first remember that with our recent victories comes increased responsibility b. Link between economic vulnerability and sexual orientation i. While only 7% of people are LGBT, 40% of homeless kids are LGBT 1. This defies Scalias stereotype of the affluent gay! 2. In fact, same sex households are far more impoverished than straight households ii. There is not a consensus that the state has no interest in discouraging LGBT identities iii. Book The Sympathetic State 1. The role of the American welfare state 2. New Deal programs were not at all a departure, but instead completely consistent with long-term govt practice a. Espoused the idea that if you want to be deserving of government support, you must be blameless b. But what counts as blameless? This is a constant contest 3. We have to think beyond orthodoxy iv. Book The Straight State 1. Context of welfare, the military and immigration 2. Thesis: gays did not APPEAR after WWII. This is a myth. a. The state did not simply encounter homosexuals...rather, the states identification of certain sexual behaviors as grounds for exclusion.... was in fact a catalyst in the formation of homosexual identity. 3. Regulation changes what is regulated! c. Should we have an individual or institutional approach? i. Those are inextricably linked ii. The state already privileges resources for some 1. i.e. marriage 2. This proves the state is everywhere: resources are being allocated already, we need to restructure this allocation d. Responsible procreation argument for marriage emerged out of welfare reform of 1996 e. So much potential still dormant in our constitutional argumentation i. Justice Kennedys anti-stratification argument of preserving dignity ii. Also, we do not have to keep fighting the fundamental rights analysis 1. We need to revisit what RATIONAL BASIS ACTUALLY MEANS: real... rational... basis. State Level Initiatives (Sarah Warbelow; State Legislative Director, HRC) a. 80% of Americans think marriage equality is an inevitability b. If you enumerate legislation, it improves the lives for LGBT youth tremendously


d. e. f.

i. Depression/suicide rate significantly decreased in schools with LGBT-friendly environments 1. Gay-Straight Alliance 2. Anti-Bullying Statewide Non-Discrimination Laws and Policies i. Usually states shove LGBT people into already existing anti-discrimination law ii. Credible resistance to creating legislation that protects LGBT students iii. A lot of overlap between nondiscrimination and anti-bullying iv. 1999, Georgia became first state to pass anti-bullying 1. Today there are 49 states (Montana the only state left) 2. Some are enumerated to LGBT, most not 3. A good anti-bullying law should say including, not limited to 4. Very dangerous when there are NO enumerations; those laws not enforced v. Washington, DC law is unique in that anti-bullying is addressed not just in schools; anywhere where youth are present Dont Say Gay and No Promo Homo Laws i. These phrases coined by Jesse Helms ii. No public school should provide any materials on non-hetero relationships Mandate in California that mandates teaching LGBT history Conclusion: all LGBT legislation is youth legislation

PANEL: Best Practices: Mapping the Way Forward 1. Where We Have Been, Where we are Now, and Where We Need to Go: a History, Overview and Way Forward for LGBT Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems (Barbara Fedders, Professor of Law UNC) a. Three catalysts for LGBT youth issues: i. Unhealthy family dynamic ii. Poor school climate as a catalyst for LGBT overrepresentation in prisons, etc iii. Crude response on the part of school administration; one dimensional response to punish them; re iv. Selective prosecution and/or heightened scrutiny based on sexual orientation and gender identity 1. Gay youth more likely to be punished for the same crimes b. Solutions i. Sexual education ii. Ability to explore sexual identity iii. Education/preparedness c. But what have we actually done? i. Various organization, legal and otherwise that at a minimum engage in education and training, seek to improve experience for LGBT people ii. Organizing by and for LGBT youth themselves iii. Resulting in many victories that limit discrimination against and improve conditions for LGBT 1. Nondiscrimination in the workplace 2. Anti-bullying laws 3. Rights to form GSAs d. What next? i. Continue work to promote safety of kids/non-discrimination ii. Move beyond protection from harm, towards promotion of wellbeing 1. Shrink juvenile justice and child welfare systems. They are staffed by overworked underpaid people who arent interested in fine tuning non discrimination; Criminal systems for juveniles are far too black and white 2. Promote intersectionality or race, class, disability etc. 3. Move beyond tolerance to affirmation 4. Concern ourselves with the bullies as well as the bullied



5. Keep expanding categories; explore gender norms: no gender binary 6. Find ways for youth to be leaders and experts in their own right LGBT Youth and the Courts (Deb Guston, Guston and Guston LLP) a. Some of the practical things people can be doing to continue or even start this conversation b. The importance of traditional associations (State Bar Association) in starting conversations about LGBT issues c. Shift from marriage to start thinking about the kids d. Point that even nurturing foster homes still sometimes send kids to respite homes that are religiously oriented i. We need to have more LGBT friendly foster parents e. We also need task forces for how to do data collection f. Sense that probation officers/police officers etc. really do want to learn i. The problem is all of the training/education is peer-to-peer ii. No budget to bring in experts iii. Effort to develop some training to bring education to them g. Lawyers will have to look at their advocacy as being much more than conversation i. If you build it, they will come- wont go in the reverse Moving Upstream: Applying the Research on Protective Factors (Shannon Wilber; National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Youth Project Director a. Overwhelming feeling about the systems surrounding LGBT youth is that we need to keep them out, they really cannot work for the benefit of these young people b. Regulation for correction facilities: i. They must attempt to ascertain how many of the people in the facilities are LGBT 1. Question of how they will do this tactfully? c. Recognize that most reforms are directed at the deep end of the systems; to those that are already in the trenches of the correctional system i. too much focus on healing the wounded rather than ending the war d. Solutions: i. shift to prevention rather than custodial intervention 1. Widespread parental education of the impact of rejecting behaviors on children a. There is hope for change in even the most close-minded of parents b. Interventions need to be available 2. Supporting initiatives to support school climate a. There shouldnt be an opt-out option for parents- there isnt one for drug education! 3. Doing meaningful data collection a. We need to get over ourselves- ask the uncomfortable questions that lead to issues with LGBT youth.