December 12, 2014
DENVER – The Colorado Division of Youth Corrections (DYC), in close collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, recently adopted a landmark policy regarding the treatment of LGBTQI youth in the department’s care, including transgender and intersex youth.
The new policy will ensure that DYC staff is properly trained to meet the needs of transgender and intersex youth, that appropriate healthcare will be provided to them, that housing and search decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, that youth are permitted to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, that preferred names, pronouns, and uniforms are honored, and that seclusion will not be used as a method to keep LGBTQI youth ‘safe.’
Statement of ACLU of Colorado Policy and Outreach Associate Sarah Spears:
“The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado commends the Colorado Department of Youth Corrections for making significant strides in its treatment of transgender and intersex youth by implementing this new LGBTQI statewide policy.
“DYC recognized that in order to fulfill its mission to protect, restore, and improve public safety by preparing youth to become responsible citizens, the staff must fully understand and be equipped to provide a most basic need for transgender youth, acknowledgement of identity.
“To its credit, DYC has risen to this challenge and is laying sensible groundwork to meet the needs of an increasingly visible LGBTQI youth population.
“An ACLU investigation, which followed complaints of discrimination and mistreatment from a transgender youth in DYC’s care, lay bare that DYC did not have policy or training in place to deal with issues related to gender identity and repeatedly failed to recognize the innate needs of transgender youth.
“Transgender youth are an especially vulnerable population that faces widespread bias, mistreatment, and discrimination, leading to tragically high depression and suicide rates. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 41% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide in their lifetime; nearly nine times that of the general public.
“DYC joins a small but growing number of other states and departments, including the Denver Sheriff Department, in enacting policy to protect the rights of transgender and intersex individuals in a correctional setting.
“By addressing the needs of this vulnerable population, DYC will be better positioned to achieve its mission. We are eager to see the implementation of this policy bring words into practice.”