PCYP engages in advocacy and litigation to improve the systems that impact our clients
The goal of our Homelessness Initiative is to ensure that all homeless and street-involved youth have access to the safe shelter and permanent housing to which they are entitled. Our objectives on the path to this goal are 1) to increase access to safe emergency shelter and transitional living programs for LGBTQQ homeless youth; 2) to ensure that homeless and street involved youth have the identity documents necessary to access shelter and housing, and 3) to increase access to birth certificates and other identity documents that reflect a young person’s lived gender, rather than the gender assigned at birth.
Criminal Justice Initiative
Homeless LGBTQQ young people are frequent targets of police attention and harassment in New York City. “Quality of life” laws, like the laws that prohibit sleeping on the subway and in public parks, are used to target this population, and police officers often use the broadness of these laws as an excuse for race- and gender-based policing. Many homeless LGBTQQ young people also come into contact with police because they have been forced into criminalized economies. Once arrested, homeless LGBTQQ young people are at risk for violence by the police, and in detention centers and jails, where harassment and abuse are common. For young LGBTQQ immigrants, contact with the criminal legal system carries additional risks: undocumented young people may be placed directly into deportation proceedings, and many forms of legal immigrant status may be jeopardized by a conviction for an offense as minor as fare evasion.
The goal of our criminal justice initiative is to intervene in the criminalization of street-involved and homeless and street-involved youth. To that end, we continue to monitor the treatment of LGBTQQ youth in juvenile detention facilities and work to improve the outcomes of youth who are in contact with the criminal justice system in New York City.
Foster Care Initiative
Our Foster Care Initiative has three goals: 1) to ensure that safe and supportive foster care placements are available to older adolescent LGBTQQ youth, 2) to end discrimination and harassment against LGBTQQ youth in foster care, and 3) to make certain that the medical needs of transgender young people in care are met.
Doe v. Bell
The Urban Justice Center filed an article 78 action in 2002 in New York State Supreme Court in support of a transgender youth who was not being allowed to dress in a manner appropriate to her gender identity while in a foster care group home. Although this was an individual action, our goal in filing this case was to create policy reform that will affect the rights of gender expression for transgender and gender nonconforming youth throughout the foster care system.
Pro bono co-counsel: Debevoise & Plimpton
Joel A. v. Giuliani
The Urban Justice Center filed this federal class action lawsuit in 1998 challenging New York City's failure to protect LGBT youth in foster care from severe physical and psychological abuse. Filing this case persuaded the City to institute reforms in the foster care system to heighten sensitivity to LGBT youth, such as increasing the capacity of group homes tailored for LGBT youth, and recruiting LGBT and LGBT-sensitive foster parents. The case was settled in favor of the plaintiffs.
Pro bono co-counsel: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton& Garrison