Chicago, IL - A unique collaboration between two non-profit organizations, the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group ( HMPRG ) and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance ( the Alliance ) , along with system partners Cook County Juvenile Probation and the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center ( JTDC ) , has successfully advocated for all Illinois Youth Centers to receive training on working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning ( LGBTQ ) youth. These groundbreaking professional development sessions will be led by Sarah Schriber, JD, Policy Director at the Alliance and Senior Policy Consultant at HMPRG and Mykel Selph, Office of Girls and Gender at the JTDC.
The trainings, which are the first of their kind in Illinois, begin today at IYC-Kewanee, two and a half hours southwest of Chicago. Tomorrow Schriber and Selph will be at IYC-Warrenville ( Naperville ) and next week at IYCs Harrisburg, Murphysboro, and Pere Marquette in the southern part of the state. The three remaining trainings at IYCs St. Charles, Joliet and Chicago are being scheduled for later this fall.
"New research indicates that LGBTQ youth represent at least 15% of all court-involved youth nationally," began Schriber, "which confirms what those of us who work with the juvenile justice system have known for a long time - that LGBTQ youth are over represented in the population. Despite the numbers, facilities have lacked even the most basic training to effectively work with these young people." "At HMPRG, we have long recognized the importance of advocating for the physical and mental health of court-involved youth and convened the Cook County Court Involved LGBTQ Task Force to address the needs and rights of LGBTQ youth - and all youth - in the system," continued Margie Schaps, Executive Director of HMPRG.
"The Alliance has developed models for working with school systems to fully address sexual orientation and gender identity and is excited to help lead the development of a model for jurisdictions across the country for partnering with the courts, locked facilities, probation and all points in the juvenile justice system to understand and address the needs of LGBTQ youth and adults. What we know is that, in schools, LGBTQ youth are more often expelled than their heterosexual counterparts. From there, they are more likely to be arrested and convicted of a juvenile offense," added Shannon Sullivan, Executive Director of the Alliance. "In order to stop this cycle of push out and marginalization of LGBTQ youth, and particularly LGBTQ youth of color, professional development like this has to be provided at every level."
For more information please visit www.hmprg.org and www.illinoissafeschools.org .