Press Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 16, 2007

The National Center for Lesbian Rights Applauds Governor Schwarzenegger for Signing History Juvenile Justice Bill

A Statement from NCLR Youth Project Director Jody Marksamer, Esq.

(San Francisco, CA, October 16, 2007) — On Saturday, October 13, 2007 Governor Schwarzenegger made history by signing SB 518, the Juvenile Justice Safety and Protection Act— the first law of its kind in the country. The bill was authored by Senator Carole Migden, (D San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) played a key role in drafting the bill, which protects all young people, including youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), from abuse and discrimination in the state's juvenile justice system.

“There has been a mounting crisis of violence and abysmal conditions in California’s juvenile justice facilities.” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and Youth Project Director Jody Marksamer. “By signing SB 518 the Governor is making a commitment to ensure that all Juvenile Justice facilities protect youth from harassment and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and that youth will no longer be held in dangerous or unhealthy conditions. NCLR, alongside Equality California, has been working hard to ensure that all LGBT people, including youth receive the protections they deserve.”

SB 518 establishes a Youth Bill of Rights, which consists of 17 basic rights for youth confined in California’s juvenile justice facilities, and requires that the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) inform youth of their rights during orientation. The bill also requires the DJJ Ombudsperson to develop age-appropriate information for youth about their rights, investigate complaints, and maintain a toll-free helpline that youth can call to report rights violations and unlawful conditions in facilities.

“California has shown that we truly care about our kids—all of our kids,” said Marksamer. “For many years, California has protected LGBT youth from harassment and discrimination in schools, foster care, public accommodations, and the workplace. With the signing of SB 518, the LGBT youth who are most vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment in our community, because they are locked up away from their families, will also have the right to protection from harassment and discrimination, as well as other basic rights that are crucial to their emotional and physical well being. California is now one step closer to ensuring all young people in this state live in environments free of abuse and discrimination.”

Since 2003, NCLR has developed strong relationships with advocates and organizations who are working to address the crisis of abuse in juvenile justice systems across the country. As a result, NCLR has been successful at ensuring that larger system overhaul efforts in states such as California, New York, and Louisiana, address the specific problems that LGBT youth face. It is through collaborations like this that we are creating changes in juvenile justice systems across the country that not only protect LGBT youth from harassment and discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, but also improve conditions for all young people.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.


media contacts:

Erik Olvera
Director of Communications
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x324

Bethany Woolman
Communications Associate
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x305

Jody Marksamer, Esq.
Youth Project Director
The National Center for Lesbian Rights
415.392.6257 x308


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