2017 Report on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Questioning, Gender Nonconforming and Transgender (LGBQ/GNCT) Youth Involved with Juvenile Justice

Since joining Reclaiming Futures, I have listened to the open meetings of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ). Supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), FACJJ (pronounced FAC Jay) members are individuals appointed to State Advisory Groups. Created in 2002, FACJJ members are responsible for having knowledge of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and to encourage state compliance with the four core protections:

  • Reduction in disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in juvenile justice
  • Deinstitutionalization of youth who commit status offenses
  • Separation of youth from adults in secure settings
  • Removing youth from adult jails and locked facilities

The purpose of the FACJJ is to provide recommendations to the President, Congress, and OJJDP Administrator on juvenile justice issues.  Guided by a charter and by-laws, the open meetings provide relevant information about FACJJ focus areas, progress made in these focus areas, and typically, some type of topic specific presentation. For example, the July 2017 meeting included an update and remarks from the OJJDP Administrator, subcommittee updates, and a presentation on gender responsive services for girls.  These meetings are informative to hear about the national and state juvenile justice efforts to help shape and support our work at Reclaiming Futures.

FACJJ core values

Many of the FACJJ core values align with the four JJDPA core protections and Reclaiming Futures approach and model.  For example, FACJJ values a full continuum of services and supports based on the least restrictive environment appropriate for the young person. The FACJJ values services and supports that are culturally competent, based on objective assessment of both risk and protective factors, and accessible to all youth and their family (e.g., socioeconomic; race/ethnicity; linguistically; gender and developmental stage). A pervasive theme throughout the value statements is collaboration. Articulation of collaboration with legal counsel, communities, families, and professionals within the juvenile justice system is in a number of the value statements.

Annual reports

Each year, FACJJ members develop reports with recommendations. Recent past reports have made recommendations about:

  • Expunging, sealing, and confidentiality of records (2015)
  • Research and publications (2015)
  • Supporting the reauthorization of JJDPA with sufficient funding (2015)
  • Exemption for youth from sex offender registry’s (2016)
  • Identifying and supporting evidence based and family focused treatment to address youthful sexual misconduct (2016)

The 2017 annual report offered recommendations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, gender nonconforming and transgender (LGBQ/GNCT) youth given their over-representation in the juvenile justice system and to address the “unique harms they experience” (p. 2). Developed by FACJJ members and experts in field, this comprehensive, well articulated, and actionable set of recommendations are categorized into the areas of policy and program development, training and technical assistance, data collection and research, and federal LGBT juvenile justice coordination.

What are some ways Reclaiming Futures sites can integrate these recommendations?

The report offers plenty of ideas for responding to the needs of LGBQ/GNCT youth involved with juvenile justice. Mapping some of the recommendations onto the Reclaiming Futures 6-step model here are some ways sites can consider responding:

  • Step 1.0 - Screening:
    • Activate your fellowship team to think through and plan ways to incorporate questions that ask young people about their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (SOGIE) so we may better understand the substance use and mental health issues and needs of LGBQ/GNCT youth. Key considerations include training staff to respectfully ask the questions, informing youth how this information will and will not be shared, and what are the potential benefits and risks to sharing this information (related to program and policy and data collection and research recommendations)
  • Step 1.5 - Brief Intervention:
    • Create space for young people to feel comfortable by asking them their preferred name and gender pronouns. To accomplish this, consider how you introduce and review the participant feedback report (related to program and policy recommendations).
  • Step 2.0 – Assessment:
    • Highlight how assessments are collected and results used to make informed decisions about substance use and mental health needs of LGBQ/GNCT youth (related to program and policy recommendations)
  • Step 3.0 – Service Coordination:
    • Collaborate with community-based agencies to improve access to and engagement in services and supports that have policies and procedures that keep LGBQ/GNCT youth and their family safe and able to participate fully (related to program and policy recommendations).
  • Steps 4.0, 5.0, 6.0 – Initiation, Engagement, and Transition:
    • Analyze data to determine if there are differences for LGBQ/GNCT youth initiating, engaging, and transitioning from behavioral health services. It may be determined that some organizations have cultural norms and values and policies and procedures that emphasize creating positive environments for LGBQ/GNCT youth through the use of evidence based approaches (related to program and policy and data collection and research recommendations).

Importance to youth and families

The National Program Office (NPO) acknowledges Reclaiming Futures sites continually strive to improve services and supports for diverse young people and their families including those from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender identities and expressions, and rural and urban areas. We support the use of best practices in screening, assessment, and coordination of services that are evidence based for youth and families while keeping the youth and their family at the center of our interactions and decision-making.  Tell us some ways you have incorporated some of these recommendations into local juvenile justice jurisdictions, services and supports, and community collaborations.

Updated: September 06 2019