Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

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Publications & Downloads


NCLR offers a wide range of online publications free of charge. If you have legal questions related to your sexual orientation or gender identity and don't find the answer to your questions in our publications, NCLR's helpline can help you find the answers.

NCLR is supported by individuals like you who care about our legal and advocacy work to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and families. Please consider making a generous tax-deductible contribution so we can continue to serve thousands of LGBT clients each year free of charge.

National Center for Lesbian Rights Youth Project Flyer
NCLR has been committed to protecting the rights of LGBTQ youth in schools, at home, in foster care, and in the juvenile justice system since 1993. Use this informational flyer as a resource at your organization.
download a pdf of the flyer

youth in foster care and juvenile justice systems

Guidelines for Managing Information Related to the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression of Children in Child Welfare Settings - 2013
This groundbreaking new publication is a product of the Putting Pride into Practice Project, a project of Family Builders by Adoption to help child welfare professionals better serve LGBT children and youth in foster care. These guidelines provide much-needed direction to child welfare agencies on how best to collect, record, and disclose information on the sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression of children and youth in foster care. Developed in partnership with Legal Services for Children, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Center for the Study of Social Policy, these guidelines will help agencies develop, track, and assess needs of LGBT children and youth.
download a pdf of the full report

A Place of Respect: A Guide for Group Care Facilities Serving Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Youth
A pioneering new report authored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project urges group care facilities to reassess their treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming youth and to adopt policies and practices that provide these youth with appropriate, fair and equal care. The report is the first to provide comprehensive guidance about the treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming youth in group care facilities,—including detention centers, correctional facilities, and group homes. The report also provides model policies and a framework for staff to ensure that all youth are given a safe and healthy living environment.
download a pdf of the full report | order a free hardcopy
read the official press release

Hidden Injustice: LGBT Youth in Juvenile Courts
Hidden Injustice, published by the Equity Project, a collaboration of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Legal Services for Children, and the National Juvenile Defender Center, represents the first effort to examine the experiences of LGBT youth in juvenile courts across the country. Drawing from first-hand accounts of more than 50 LGBT youth and in-depth interviews of more than 60 juvenile justice professionals, this groundbreaking report sheds light on the numerous barriers to fair and effective treatment of court-involved LGBT youth. Hidden Injustice is an invaluable resource for anyone who is committed to pursuing a fair and just juvenile delinquency system where all youth are treated with dignity, fairness, and respect.
download a pdf of the full report | order a free hardcopy
click here for more information on the Equity Project and Hidden Injustice

In Defense of LGBT Youth: Strategies to Help Juvenile Defenders Zealously Advocate for their LGBT Clients
This short article provides information for juvenile defenders that will assist them in defending LGBT youth. In Defense of LGBT Youth expands upon recommendations and strategies from the Equity Project’s publication Hidden Injustice: LGBT Youth in Juvenile Courts. A similar version of this article appears in the UC Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy 401 (2011).
download article pdf | click here for more information on the Equity Project and Hidden Injustice

LGBT Youth in Juvenile Court: Practice Tips for Juvenile Defenders
The Equity Project is excited to announce the release of LGBT Youth in Juvenile Court: Practice Tips for Juvenile Defenders, a short, convenient, and easy-to-use tool that contains practical tips for juvenile defenders to assist them in their representation of their LGBT clients. Practice Tips for Juvenile Defenders is a companion piece to the Equity Project’s 2009 publication, Hidden Injustice. The Equity Project is a collaboration of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Legal Services for Children, and the National Juvenile Defender Center.
download practice tips pdf | click here for more information on the Equity Project and Hidden Injustice

National Recommended Best Practices for Serving LGBT Homeless Youth
LGBT youth are overrepresented in the homeless population and all too often experience discrimination and abuse when accessing homeless youth services. This publication, developed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights in collaboration with the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the National Network for Youth, and Lambda Legal, contains the first set of guidelines dedicated to increasing the ability of agencies to competently work with homeless LGBT youth. The recommendations include specific guidance on how to improve daily practice, create a supportive organizational culture, and make residential services more accessible to LGBT youth.
download the pdf

Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) Best Practice Guidelines: Serving LGBT Youth in Out-of-Home Care
This easy-to-use resource contains the first-ever set of comprehensive professional guidelines for how child welfare and juvenile justice professionals can best serve LGBT youth in state care. The Best Practice Guidelines for Serving LGBT Youth in Out of Home Care developed out of recommendations from the Model Standards Project, a collaboration between Legal Services for Children and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
download a pdf of the full publication | order a hardcopy
download a pdf of the executive summary
download a pdf of a powerpoint summary

Breaking the Silence: LGBTQ Foster Youth Tell Their Stories: DVD and Resource CD
The ten short digital stories included on Breaking the Silence are powerful tales of both the successes and failures of the foster care system. Over the course of a four-day workshop organized by NCLR and the Y.O.U.T.H Training Project of San Francisco State's Bay Area Academy which took place at the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, California, ten former foster youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) shared their stories and learned to edit them into moving, heartfelt (and sometimes heartbreaking) personal videos. Through these youths' thoughtful, honest, and insightful words and images, we hear directly about their experiences in state care, as well as their recommendations for better supporting LGBTQ youth in the future. In addition, each DVD comes with a CD containing more than 25 useful and informative training tools and resources. Breaking the Silence is a must-have tool for social workers, probation officers, group home workers, foster parents, system administrators, lawyers, youth advocates, and other service providers who work with LGBTQ youth. Read more here.
order your free copy: pdf order form | online

Model Policy & Practice Guidelines for Juvenile Justice Facilities - Providing Non-Discriminatory Services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth
This model policy - specifically designed for juvenile justice facilities - includes detailed practice guidelines to help facilities implement anti-harassment policies and create safe and non-discriminatory environments for LGBT youth.
download pdf

Model Anti-Harassment and Non- Discrimination Policy for Child Welfare or Juvenile Justice Agencies
This model anti-harassment and non-discrimination policy is for child welfare and juvenile justice agencies who wish to adopt a policy that would prohibit all forms of harassment, create a safe environment for all youth and service providers, and ensure that all youth have equal access to all available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits provided by the agency.
download pdf

The Model Standards Project: Creating Inclusive Systems for LGBT Youth in Out-of-Home Care
This article describes the history, development, and goals of the Model Standards Project (MSP), a collaboration between Legal Services for Children and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The article concludes with recommendations for implementation of the standards in local jurisdictions. A version of this article appears in Volume 85, Issue 2, of Child Welfare, a journal published by the Child Welfare League of America.
download pdf

The Equity Project: Ensuring Fairness & Respect for LGBT Youth in the Justice System
This brochure outlines NCLR's partnership with Legal Services for Children and the National Juvenile Defender Center on this three-year initiative to ensure that LGBT youth in the juvenile delinquency court system are treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. For more information, visit http://www.equityproject.org/.
download pdf

The Equity Project Advisory Committee Resource CD Table of Contents
This annotated table of contents provides a compilation of resources relating to LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system, including training materials. Please contact The Equity Project at info@equityproject.org for copies of specific materials mentioned in this document.
download pdf

Defending LGBTQ Youth: A Guide for Attorneys Representing Youth in Delinquency Proceedings
Attorneys can use this guide to learn how their clients' sexual orientation or gender identity may come up during the course of representation and how they can be effective advocates for LGBT youth, before and after adjudication.
download pdf

LGBTQ Youth in the Foster Care System Fact Sheet
Using statistics and quotes from LGBTQ youth, this fact sheet provides an overview of many LGBTQ youths' pathways into care and their experiences in child welfare placements.
download pdf

The Legal Rights of LGBT Youth in the Child Welfare System Fact Sheet
LGBT young people in the child welfare system have clearly-established civil rights under the U.S. Constitution as well as state and federal statutes. This user-friendly fact sheet provides an overview of these rights.
download pdf

LGBTQ Youth in the Juvenile Justice System Fact Sheet
Using statistics and quotes from LGBTQ youth, this fact sheet provides an overview of the pathways that lead many LGBTQ youth into the juvenile justice system and their experiences once in detention or correctional facilities.
download pdf

The Legal Rights of LGBT Youth in the Juvenile Justice System Fact Sheet
LGBT young people in the juvenile justice system have clearly-established civil rights under the U. S. Constitution as well as state and federal statutes. This user-friendly fact sheet provides an overview of these rights.
download pdf

The Legal Rights of Young People in State Custody: What Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Professionals Need to Know When Working with LGBT Youth
Youth in state custody, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have federal and state constitutional and statutory rights. These rights guarantee a young person safety in their placement as well as freedom from the deprivation of other liberty interests. Knowledge of a youth's legal rights can help providers avoid legal liability and create a safer and healthier environment for LGBT youth. A version of this article appears in Child Welfare (Volume 85, Issue 2), a journal published by the Child Welfare League of America.
download pdf

And by the Way, Do You Know He Thinks He’s a Girl? The Failures of Law, Policy, and Legal Representation for Transgender Youth in Juvenile Delinquency Courts
Because of the persistence of bias and discrimination against transgender people generally, the societal lack of understanding of gender and sexuality, and a distrust of difference, transgender youth are at high risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system. For many of these youth, their gender identity is relevant both to why they were arrested and to their needs once they are brought into the courtroom. This article discusses how law, policy, and legal representation are regularly failing transgender youth in juvenile delinquency systems throughout the United States and concludes by posing policy and system recommendations that will address these failures. This article first appeared in the Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC (Vol 5, No. 1, March 2008)
download pdf

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Young People in State Custody: Making the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems Safe for All Youth through Litigation, Advocacy and Education
Over the last few years, a coordinated national effort to improve the treatment of LGBT youth in child welfare and juvenile justice systems situation has emerged through the hard work of hundreds of advocates from around the country. This article describes some of their successes in using the legal rights of LGBT youth to create effective nondiscrimination policies, best practices guidelines, and other resources to support LGBT youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. A version of this article appeared in Temple Law Review (Volume 79, Issue 2, Summer 2006).
download pdf

california-specific information

Queer & Trans Youth in California Foster Care Have Rights: A Know Your Rights Guide
NCLR, in collaboration with the Out of Home Youth Advocacy Council and California Youth Connection, produced this guide to help queer and transgender youth in the California foster care system navigate their rights. Contact NCLR if you would like to order hard copies to distribute in your area.
download pdf

AB 458 Fact Sheet: The California Foster Care Non-Discrimination Act
AB 458, the Foster Care Non-Discrimination Act, went into effect on January 1, 2004. This law is the first of its kind in the United States to explicitly include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and adults involved with the foster care system.
download pdf

OHYAC Training of Trainers Curriculum: Creating Inclusive Services for LGBT Youth in Out of Home Care
NCLR, in collaboration with Legal Services for Children and Family Builders by Adoption, spearheaded a task force that addressed the needs of LGBTQ youth and families involved in the Bay Area foster care system. The task force's priority was implementation of AB 458, the California Foster Care Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in the foster care system. This "train the trainer" curriculum is designed to assist child welfare trainers in conducting trainings for their own agencies on AB 458 compliance and how to create inclusive policies and services for LGBT Youth.
download the training curriculum preface pdf
download the training curriculum in full or 3 separate parts | part1 | part2 | part3
please contact us if you would like a copy of the curriculum in PowerPoint format

LGBTQ Youth in the California Foster Care System: A Question and Answer Guide
This question and answer guide is designed to address many of the frequently-asked questions about protecting LGBTQ youth in the California foster care system from harassment and discrimination.
download pdf

SB 518 Fact Sheet: The California Juvenile Justice Safety and Protection Act
This bill provides a comprehensive bill of rights to protect youth in California juvenile justice facilities from discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender Identity.
download pdf

Bridging the Gap between Rights and Reality for Youth Incarcerated in California
This article, published in the Winter 2008 edition of the U.C. Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy, discusses the rights of youth in the juvenile justice system, as well as summarizing the components of California SB 518, the California Juvenile Justice Safety and Protection Act.
download pdf

recursos en español (resources in spanish)

La juventud LGBTQ en el Sistema de Hogares Sustitutos / LGBTQ Youth in the Foster Care System
download pdf

Los Jóvenes LGBTQ en el Sistema de Justicia Juvenil / LGBTQ Youth in the Juvenile Justice System
download pdf

school safety

National Safe Schools Roundtable Statement of Anti-Racist Framework
A statement from the National Safe Schools Roundtable about its commitment to addressing issues of race and racism as an integral part of its work to improve the wellbeing of LGBT youth in schools.
download pdf

All Families Welcome: Making Your School Safe for Students with LGBT Parents (California Safe Schools Coalition)
Students with LGBT parents have the right to attend school in safety, free of any form of harassment or discrimination. This brochure provides a brief overview of California law and quick facts on families with LGBT parents.
download pdf

Beyond the Binary: Making Schools Safe for Transgender Youth
Created by NCLR, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the Transgender Law Center, Beyond the Binary is a comprehensive tool kit designed to help students, school staff, and other community activists who want to address harassment and discrimination against transgender and other gender non-conforming students.
download pdf

Harassment & Discrimination: A Legal Overview
This publication gives an overview of the federal and state provisions requiring schools to protect students from anti-LGBT harassment and discrimination.
download pdf

Study of Anti-Gay Harassment Shows the Problem is Widespread, Dangerous and Preventable
Despite an anti-harassment law that took effect in 2003, harassment and bullying based on sexual orientation remain persistent and pervasive in California schools. More than 200,000 students every year are targets of harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, according to a study released today by the California Safe Schools Coalition. The Safe Place to Learn study, which included 26 times more respondents than any previous study on the issue, found that such widespread bullying has dangerous academic, health, and safety consequences for students. The study is among the first to document that schools can take concrete steps to reduce harassment and improve student health and safety.
download pdfs:
press release | summary fact sheet | full report

Expensive Reasons Why Safe Schools Legislation is in Your State's Best Interest
This joint publication with NCLR and GLSEN provides an overview of lawsuits brought against school districts for failing to protect students from anti-LGBT harassment and discrimination. In all of the cases, the student either prevailed after trial, or achieved a settlement. The school districts paid up to $1.1 million in settlements or judgments and often were required to implement significant policy changes and training programs.
download pdf

California Safe Schools Coalition's Question and Answer Guides
These two guides were developed for school district officials and administrators. The first guide explains school districts' responsibility to protect students from harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The second guide answers questions regarding parental permission and notification for education on tolerance and diversity. California State Senator Sheila James Kuehl wrote a letter introducing these publications to the school officials.
download pdfs:
school safety for LGBT students | parental permission statutes |
Senator Kuehl's letter to school districts introducing the publications

Gay/Straight Alliances
Common legal questions and answers about gay/straight alliances.
download pdf

Policy Tool: Frequently Asked Questions On Safe School Policies
This fact sheet, created by NCLR and GLSEN, is designed to address many of the frequently asked questions about how schools can best protect LGBT students from harassment and discrimination and, at the same time, protect themselves from potential liability.
download pdf

Policy Tool: Inclusion of Enumerated Categories in Safe School Legislation/Policies
One of the most effective ways to protect LGBT students is to adopt and implement "safe school" laws and policies that explicitly prohibit harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. This document was created by GLSEN and NCLR to provide advocates and activists in the field with a resource to advocate for policies that are inclusive of the youth most at-risk in our schools.
download pdf

Safe Schools Legislation: Guidance for Drafting State Safe Schools Legislation
This document is designed to provide guidance for advocates involved in drafting Safe Schools legislation. The document outlines the important elements to be included in such legislation and offers suggested language from existing statutes and bills.
download pdf

Student Harassment and Discrimination: Talking Points
Why school districts should include sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-harassment policies.
download pdf

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