The Equity Project seeks to understand the needs, strengths, and experiences of LGBT youth involved in the juvenile justice system; identifies obstacles to the equitable treatment of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system; recommends concrete strategies for promoting the equitable treatment of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system; and educates juvenile justice system professionals through dissemination of policy and practice recommendations and tools.
In 2009, largely due to a convening of the Equity Project Advisory Committee (EPAC), a diverse group of experts in the field, the Equity Project published Hidden Injustice, an in-depth report about the experiences of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system, with accompanying concrete recommendations for reform for different stakeholders. Following the release of that report, training requests began to increase rapidly from a variety of juvenile justice stakeholders around the country, and, with heightened public awareness, continue to do so. Hidden Injustice remains the fundamental report used among advocates and juvenile justice professionals to educate staff about the criminalization of LGBT youth.
Since the publication of Hidden Injustice, the Equity Project has provided training and technical assistance, information, education and resources, and assisted with the development of policy at local, state and national levels. Equity Project staff have also been engaged in intensive site-based work in Santa Clara County, California, and in three sites in Louisiana (East Baton Rouge Parish, Calcasieu Parish, and the 15th Judicial District-Lafayette, Acadia, and Vermilion Parishes), working with diverse stakeholders, such as judges, defense attorneys, detention center managers, probation staff, prosecutors, mental health staff, education personnel, and advocates, to develop policies and increase system-wide competency to serve LGBT youth. The site-based work has included training hundreds of juvenile justice stakeholders, developing, drafting, advising on, and revising policies, providing technical assistance on specific cases, and developing and providing tools and resources. Examples of these resources include model policies for detention facilities and practice tips for juvenile defenders. Equity Project staff have also developed a comprehensive model training curriculum for juvenile justice professionals.