Resources for Legislators & Policy Makers
Recommendations to the Massachusetts Great and General Court
The Commission recognizes the significant strides the Commonwealth has made in meeting the unique challenges of individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. However, current resources are inadequate to address the health and welfare needs of youth who are GLBT, and discrimination against youth who are transgender or gender non-conforming is still not explicitly illegal in Massachusetts.
Extend Anti-discrimination Protections to youth who are Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming
The Commonwealth needs to make an explicit commitment to providing equal protection under the law to people of diverse gender identities and expressions. The state at this time has no laws protecting the civil rights of transgender and gender non-conforming youth, and thus they may be arbitrarily denied access to school, employment and housing. In the last legislative session "An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes" garnered support from a majority of members in both the House and Senate members but the bill did not reach the floor for a vote. Similar legislation will be introduced this year, and this civil rights bill remains the Commission's top legislative priority.
Appropriate funding in the state budget for the Departments of Public Health and Elementary and Secondary Education that is dedicated to meeting the needs of youth who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Due to the fiscal crisis in the Commonwealth, significant cuts were made in FY09 and FY10 in funding for services targeted to address the health, welfare and safety needs of these vulnerable populations. To date (6.23.10), there is no dedicated funding for these services in the FY11 budget, nor any explicit requirement that funds be expended for services to the GLBT populations. This could particularly impact GLBT youth in resource poor communities of color where private funding may be less available. The Commission recommends that the House and Senate budgets each include dedicated service funding for these populations at least at the level of the original FY09 appropriation, and also funds to support the ongoing work of the Commission on GLBT Youth.
Address deficiencies in the treatment of GLBT youth offenders and victims.
The juvenile and adult criminal justice systems have a high impact on the future of both juvenile offenders and juvenile victims. Evidence strongly suggests that incarcerated GLBT youth, especially transgender youth, are likely to face serious safety concerns (Majd, Marksamer, and Reyes. 2009). Yet, very little is known about the treatment of GLBT youth in the criminal justice system, whether as offenders or victims, and the long-term outcomes of that treatment.
Accordingly, we recommend that the legislature, through the Executive Office of Public Safety and EOHHS, commission studies of the treatment of GLBT youth offenders and victims. The study's purpose should be to identify deficiencies and propose corrective measures. Such a study should review the treatment of GLBT youth in each of the following stages of the juvenile and adult justice system: Victim/witness services and counseling, investigation, prosecution, sentencing, drug diversion and treatment, corrections facilities, and parole. We recommend that such a study incorporate at least two dimensions: (a) Causes and rates of both recidivism and avoidance of future criminal activity by GLBT youth; and (b) Accessibility effectiveness of victim recovery treatment and rehabilitation services for GLBT youth