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
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.