Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Assembly passes the SAFETY Act

The NYS Assembly voted 113-0 today to pass the Safe and Fair Treatment for Youth Act, known as the SAFETY Act (A.1613), which ensures that youth in New York State Juvenile Justice facilities are protected from harassment (from staff and/or peers) based on race, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender and sex.

From the Pride Agenda's memo in support of the bill:

Unfortunately, in recent years many children in facilities operated by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) have been verbally and physically bullied and harassed simply because of who they are, sometimes by other youth and sometimes by staff. One youth reported being called “stupid faggot” by a staff person; another tells of how she avoids showering for fear of harassment and discrimination. The harassment experienced by LGBT youth is particularly ironic, since many become involved in the juvenile justice system because of the oppression connected with their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, such as when they are kicked out of their homes or abused by a parent or guardian and then turn to life on the streets.

There is no companion bill to this one in the State Senate and there is not likely to be one this year (the session ends next Friday), but the Assembly has taken an important first step by recognizing that juvenile justice facilities need to be fixed in order to be truly effective tools of rehabilitation for disenfranchised LGBT youth.

1 comment:

Paul said...

This just goes to prove that the NYS Assembly can make positive change occur. I only hope they continue this imitative with marriage equality before the end of this Legislative session.