By Jess Scanlon

New York’s Office of Children and Family collects demographic information about gender, race, age and origins of the young people in its custody. Advocates say they should also collect information about young people’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

Juvenile justice advocates say that New York State collects too little data on juveniles in the juvenile justice system. They say this puts lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people at a disadvantage by not allowing the state to plan for LGBT youth nor to address issues like abuse and intimidation these young people may face while in juvenile detention facilities. Alyssa Rodriguez, a transgender woman who was mistreated while in Office of Youth and Family Services custody, sued the agency in 2006. Government information about LGBT young people is limited to court files, such as Rodriguez vs. Johnson, and public testimony with no government data about the size of this population segment.

The Office of Children and Family Services offers training to prepare its staff for LGBT young people. It began training its personal about LGBT youth after being sued. New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services collects this data, but doesn’t share the numbers publicly. An Office of Children and Family Services spokesperson said that the state agency doesn’t collect orientation and gender identity data because of confidentiality concerns. It relies on the young people to tell them if they’re gay. The number of young people who do disclose their orientation is not tracked nor shared either.

Academic Angela Irvine showed in a 2010 survey conducted for her research that LGBT youth are overrepresented in the juvenile detention population, at a proportion 2-3 times higher than the size of the general population segment nationally.

Source: Irvine, Angela. Columbia Journal of Gender & Law Vol. 19 Nmr 3. 3 Sept 2010; “Facts: Gay and Lesbian Youth in Schools.”(2011) from Lambda Legal Web Site.
Infographics by Jess Scanlon.



Judy Yu, the associate director of LGBTQ Issues of The Correctional Association of New York’s Juvenile Justice Project said that this data should be collected when a young person enters a facility.
“It’s important to know who’s in your care and custody,” said Judy Yu, “It’s really important to do right way because it’s highly sensitive information.”

Yu cited a Irvine’s 2010 paper on LGBT young people in juvenile detention that showed about 15 percent of young people in juvenile detention facilities are LGBT. This research also showed that girls in detention are more likely to identify as LGBT.

Source: Irvine, Angela. Columbia Journal of Gender & Law Vol. 19 Nmr 3. 3 Sept 2010. Infographics by Jess Scanlon