BreakOUT! Releases New Tools to Help Keep LGBTQ Youth Safe
BreakOUT! released two new tools recently to help keep LGBTQ youth, especially young transgender women, safe on the streets of New Orleans. The first, the "BreakOUT! Guide to Street Safety and Preserving Your Rights with the Police" is a 4-page guide to knowing your rights with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). Unlike other "Know Your Rights" guides, the BreakOUT! guide recognizes the complexity and risk involved in advocating for your rights and is also a tool for member outreach and development.
If an officer feels their authority is being questioned or that they are being disrespected, it may escalate the situation or, in extreme cases, the officer may become retaliatory. As a result, many young people may be fearful that they could become less safe with law enforcement when they aggresively advocate for themselves or assert their constitutional rights. The BreakOUT! guide recognizes the complexity of advocating for yourself and provides youth with concrete tips they can use after assessing their own safety and risk factors. BreakOUT! also recognizes that even though an officer's activity may be unlawful, such as an illegal stop, it does not guarantee that you will not be arrested. However, the BreakOUT! Guide to Street Safety offers tips for things youth can say or do that, while may not prevent you from being arrested, could help you later in court.
Perhaps most importantly, the guide offers information on how to report police misconduct or harassment with BreakOUT! As an official intake site for the Independent Police Monitor, citizens can file complaints that will be forwarded to the IPM or file complaints for BreakOUT! to use in our reports and advocacy efforts. All complaints can be made anonymously.
These two new tools will go a long way toward helping BreakOUT! members and constituency stay safe with law enforcement until we acheive our "We Deserve Better" campaign goals to 1) get a LGBTQ-specific policy adopted and implemented in the New Orleans Police Department 2) get model LGBTQ training for all officers in the NOPD informed by national best practices and in consultation with youth members and 3) secure a seat on any Advisory Boards that develop to the NOPD.
The "BreakOUT! Guide to Street Safety and Preserving Your Rights with the Police" can be downloaded below. Or, stop by our office for a printed version.