Incarcerated LGBT youth bill goes to Schwarzenegger

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

California State Senator Carole Migden has announced that her legislation to protect the rights of LGBT youth incarcerated in state juvenile correction facilities has passed in both houses of the legislature.

It has been sent to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk for signature.

Ms Migden, a Democrat from San Francisco, said in a statement to the press that her bill, S.B. 518, is necessary due to serious personal rights violations that frequently occur in California’s detention centres, harming kids both psychologically and physically.

“There are serious personal rights violations occurring in detention facilities all over California, including attacks by other kids and excessive force by staff,” she said.

“We must protect LGBT kids from abuse while incarcerated so that when they come out they’re not damaged, but healthy and ready to return to society.”

In her statement, Migden shared the story of Danielle Thompson, a 21-year-old youth advocate for foster care and juvenile justice issues who has testified in support of S.B. 518.

Upon her arrival at a youth detention facility, Thompson said she was asked to identify her sexual orientation by guards.

She and other girls who identified themselves as lesbians were segregated in smaller cells, prohibited from participating in outdoor activities with other youth, and forced to eat separately.

S.B. 518 establishes the “Youth Bill of Rights” within both the State Division of Juvenile Justice system and county probation departments and facilities, sets up statewide anti-discrimination policies and procedure for both state and county detention facilities, and a toll-free hotline for youth to call if they encounter problems with discrimination or violence.

Governor Schwarzenegger has until October 14th to sign or veto the bill.

Chrys Hudson © 2007; All Rights Reserved.