CR: States must do more to protect LGBTQ youth from hate violence

As part of Children’s Rights’ ongoing efforts to advocate on behalf of LGBTQ youth in foster care, CR recently joined 15 organizations and agencies – ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Justice, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Lambda Legal and others – to address hate crimes based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The discussion was part of The Emory Public Interest Committee’s 12th Annual Conference, “How the Law Handles Hate,” in Georgia. Christina Wilson Remlin, senior staff attorney at CR, joined a panel that focused on the particular vulnerabilities of the LGBTQ community, including LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care systems, like child welfare and juvenile justice settings.

Studies show that 2 out of 5 homeless youth are LGBTQ, and that the majority have been in the child welfare system. Nationwide, many LGBTQ youth enter out-of-home care systems for reasons directly related to their sexual orientation, gender identities or gender expression – including children who have been rejected, neglected or abused by their families. Compounding the issue, nearly 1/3 of sexual minority adults in the U.S. report having been a victim of hate crime.

“All too often, state systems designed to project young people are the very state actors perpetrating or permitting psychological, physical and sexual violence against the LGBTQ community, motivated by rejection of their gender identities or expressions or of their sexual orientation,” said Remlin. “These young people are some of the most vulnerable in our nation and our state systems must do more to ensure their protection from hate violence, especially when in state custody.”

CR has teamed up with Lambda Legal to continue LGBTQ advocacy efforts on many fronts. CR is currently investigating the treatment of LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care systems, and is also collaborating on a policy project with Lambda Legal, identifying states where barriers exist in preventing transgender youth from safety and support in out-of-home care.