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BreakOUT! & Streetwise and Safe (SAS) Launch National LGBTQ Know Your Rights Network at Creating Change Conference

on Fri, 01/31/2014 - 01:45

Streetwise and Safe (SAS) and BreakOUT!, two organizations made up predominantly of LGBTQ youth of color with experiences of policing and the criminal legal system,are launching a national Know Your Rights Network for LGBTQ youth to know and share resources for reducing the harms of interactions with the police and other law enforcement and organizing for systemic changes in policing practices.

Born out of workshops, surveys, and conversations with LGBTQ youth organizations across the country at the Allied Media Conference and at FIERCE’s Connecting Our Roots convening, the newly launched network aims to meet a need consistently identified by LGBTQ young people for media, materials, and strategies for sharing information about their rights with the police that are tailored to their

BreakOUT! Hosts Missouri GSA for Peer Exchange on LGBTQ Youth and School-to-Prison Pipeline

on Thu, 01/30/2014 - 17:04

Thanks to the GSA Network, BreakOUT! enjoyed a peer exchange with the Missouri GSA Network in January to talk about the school-to-prison pipeline and criminalization of LGBTQ youth in our communities, especially transgender youth of color.

Over 2 days, young people gathered to learn from each other, breaking down experiences being criminalized in Missouri and New Orleans, visiting juvenile court, holding storycircles, and planning for next steps over po'boys and barbecue.  We even took some time to write to BreakOUT! members currently in the prison pipeline to show them love and solidarity!

One of the Missouri GSA youth members had this to say:












BreakOUT! looks forward to continuing to build relationships with our friends in Missouri!

Human Rights Watch Releases Report Echoing BreakOUT! Member Stories

on Wed, 12/11/2013 - 14:44

"Police went through my purse and called me a 'thing' and asked what I needed all those condoms for..."

-transgender woman in New Orleans, excerpted from "In Harm's Way"

Report Further Proves Need for Policing Reforms, Tackles Other Major Public Health Crises

On Wednesday, the international organization, Human Rights Watch, will release a 57-page report, “In Harm’s Way: State Response to Sex Workers, Drug Users, and HIV in New Orleans.”  According to Human Rights Watch, the report "documents government violations of the right to health and other abuses of at-risk populations in New Orleans."
"The Human Rights Watch report just further proves that New Orleans continues to have a problem with discriminatory policing practices and further validates the stories we continue to hear

BreakOUT! Responds to HRC’s 2013 Municipal Equality Index

on Wed, 11/27/2013 - 15:31

Making the Grade: Equality for Who?

by Derwin Wilright, Jr.

For LGBTQ youth of color in New Orleans, it seems that we might have missed a community memo.  Big Gay Inc. came to town and we didn’t receive an invite to the party.

Every year, the Human Rights Campaign releases their Municipal Equality Index, an assessment of LGBTQ-inclusivity at the city-wide level through evaluation of several factors, from relationship recognition to law enforcement.  Just recently marked the release of the 2013 Municipal Equality Index.

While the report acknowledges that “The MEI specifically rates cities on their laws and policies” and that  “it is not a measure of an LGBT person’s lived experience in that city,” BreakOUT! was still surprised to see that New Orleans was given a score of 91% - due in

"Pray for the Dead, Fight Like Hell for the Living!"

on Wed, 11/20/2013 - 05:00

Quote from Mother Jones, Labor and Community Organizer
Photo by Ted Moree from 2011 BreakOUT! Memorial Vigil

BreakOUT! Commemorates 15th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance

by BreakOUT! Member, L'lerret Jazelle Ailith

BreakOUT! was founded on the structures of community, advocacy, and action for those LGBTQ individuals residing in the greater New Orleans area who need it the most. We have an obligation to uplift those in our community that are consistently marginalized and misrepresented. With most of our members identifying under the trans* umbrella, it is necessary and pertinent that we take the time to truly give a mic and a light to these brothers and sisters during the time of TDOR. 

TDOR (Transgender Day of Remembrance) occurs annually on November 20th to memorialize those

Curtain Up!

on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 15:39

BreakOUT! Healing Justice Program Kicks Off with Ping Chong + Company Theatre Performance

BreakOUT! was recently invited by the Arcus Foundation to partner with Ping Chong + Company, an internationally acclaimed theater company from New York, to put together our own version of their “Undesirable Elements” project, an oral history theater series that uses the voices of real people to explore issues of identity and difference.

After a lot of deliberation (How do we tell our stories from a place of power?  Who gets to hear our stories?  How will we use this in our campaigns?  Who are these people from New York anyway??), members and organizers at BreakOUT! decided to take on the task.

Now, after a week of workshops, rehearsals, games, and scripting, we are happy we did!

BreakOUT! spent all

BreakOUT! Launches GED Classes with Youth Empowerment Project’s NOPLAY

on Sat, 10/19/2013 - 05:17

A groundbreaking study published in 2010 found that gay and transgender youth are up to 3 times more likely to experience harsh disciplinary treatment by school administrators- including suspension, expulsion, and school arrest.  For many transgender youth of color, this school-to-prison pipeline quickly leads them toward time behind bars.

Since our founding in 2011, BreakOUT! has worked in partnership with the Youth Empowerment Project’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) and GED program, New Orleans Providing Literacy to All Youth (NOPLAY) to provide training, technical assistance, and co-sponsored events as part of YEP’s ongoing work to be LGBTQ-affirming and welcoming of all students.

It’s also been a key strategy to stopping the rail to jail for many LGBTQ youth of color in our city.

BreakOUT! Launches Know Your Rights Strategy in Response to Policy 402

on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 16:46

BreakOUT! knows it is up to us to hold the NOPD accountable and keep our communities safe.

That's why we launched a new Know Your Rights strategy in response to the New Orleans Police Department's Policy 402 with ideas gathered from youth members and our summer travels!

While we continue to engage with the Department of Justice as they implement the federal Consent Decree, provide recommendations for an even stronger policy with true community engagement, and conduct community-based research to position ourselves as experts over our own lives, we are also educating our communities on their rights with law enforcement.

BreakOUT! recently partnered with photographer Rush Jagoe to do a Know Your Rights photoshoot (thanks to our friends at Propeller) and created our new Instagram

BreakOUT! Co-Sponsors Southern Harm Reduction Conference

on Thu, 09/19/2013 - 23:58

BreakOUT! is excited to co-sponsor the 2013 Southern Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Conference with local host Women With a Vision and regional host the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition in New Orleans, LA on December 12-13, 2013.  Register for the conference here!

BreakOUT! Contributes to Report on Police Profiling to UN Human Rights Committee

on Tue, 09/17/2013 - 16:52

From the Rights Working Group:

The Rights Working Group has submitted a shadow report, "The Persistence of Discriminatory Profiling Based on Race, Ethnicity, Religion, National Origin, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in the United States," to the United Nations' Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland.

This report was created through the collaboration of many member groups, including BreakOUT!, The Beloved Community Center, The Black Alliance for Just Immigration, The Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility Project at the City of New York School of Law, The Center for Constitutional Rights, The Center for Intercultural Organizing, The Minority Executive Directors Coalition, The Muslim American Society Immigrant Justice Center, OneAmerica, The Providence