Hawai'i youth correctional facility anti-gay harassment

The ACLU of Hawai'i and the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Rights Project

represented three young people — a 17-year-old male-to-female transgender girl, an

18-year-old lesbian, and an 18-year-old boy perceived to be gay — in a federal

civil rights lawsuit against Hawai'i Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF), the

state's juvenile correctional facility. The plaintiffs said they were abused and

harassed because of their sexual orientation and gender identity while at HYCF.

The ACLU asked for a preliminary injunction to force HYCF to establish

policies, procedures, and training to prevent further abuse of LGBT wards.

Although HYCF is supposed to exist to rehabilitate nonviolent

offenders who are sent to the facility for offenses like running away from home,

drug use, or truancy, the ACLU alleged that officials at the Hawai'i Department

of Human Services (DHS) and HYCF ignored and sometimes even participated in an

atmosphere of harassment, humiliation, and fear for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and

transgender youth in the facility, despite repeated pleas by doctors and

psychologists who were concerned about the wards' safety and well-being.

The ACLU of Hawai'i has long been involved in efforts to improve

conditions at HYCF. In 2003, the affiliate issued a 34-page report detailing

systemic problems at the facility. A year later, the U.S. Department of Justice

also launched an investigation into conditions, policies, and practices at HYCF,

and on August 4, 2005, released its findings. Like the ACLU, the Department of

Justice found widespread violations of the Constitutional rights of juveniles in

the facility.

Status: VICTORY!  The judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring HYCF to stop

harassment of LGBT wards and HYCF settled the case, agreeing to many reforms and a new anti-harassment policy.

Sign Up for Breaking News