GET YR RIGHTS toolkin for organizing to challenge discriminatory policing of LGBTQTS youth released at Creating Change


Streetwise and Safe (SAS) and BreakOUT! released a toolkit today gathering together resources and strategies from Get Yr Rights!: A National Know Your Rights Network of over 30 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and two-spirit (LGBTQTS) youth and youth serving organizations across the country for organizing to change the ways police interact with LGBTQTS youth.

The Get Yr Rights Network, co-anchored by BreakOUT! (New Orleans, LA) and Streetwise and Safe (New York, NY), serves as a resource to LGBTQTS youth and LGBTQTS youth-serving organizations working with LGBTQTS youth of color and Indigenous youth, homeless youth, youth living in low income communities, youth who are or are profiled as being involved in the sex trades, immigrant youth, transgender youth, and youth whose appearance or behavior is perceived to be gender or sexually non-conforming who are working to challenge police profiling and abuse.

In New Orleans, a participatory research study of LGBTQ youth experiences with the police conducted by BreakOUT! in 2014 found that LGBTQ youth of color were more likely to report contact with the police, homophobic and transphobic harassment, being asked for sexual favors by the police, and having been arrested themselves when calling the police for help.

“Sometimes the experiences of LGBTQTS youth of color and Two Spirit youth look similar to those of other youth of color and Indigenous youth, involving racial profiling and targeting for drug and “quality of life” offenses, discriminatory stops, searches, verbal and sexual harassment, and physical violence,” said Verónica Bayetti Flores, Policy Coordinator at Streetwise and Safe.

“But sometimes police profiling, harassment and violence affecting LGBTQTS youth takes on gender and sexuality specific forms – like being profiled for prostitution-related offenses or lewd conduct, being called homophobic or transphobic names during stops, being harassed when identification documents don’t match gender identity or expression, being subjected to illegal searches to assign gender based on anatomy, or being held in unsafe conditions in police custody.”

The release of the Toolkit is particularly timely in light of recent national attention regarding police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner – and countless other police killings of women of color and LGBTQTS individuals that receive much less media attention, including the police shooting of queer teenager Jessie Hernandez in Denver, Colorado just this past month.


The Toolkit is chock-full of case studies, resources, and step-by-step guides to reforming departments, but also discusses the importance of solidarity within communities affected by profiling and police abuses, building strong coalitions across constituencies,and of not raising or organizing around policing of LGBTQTS youth as a single issue, but rather one squarely situated in larger movements for racial, economic, immigrant and gender justice.

Mitchyll Mora, Research & Campaign Staff at Streetwise and Safe, states, “The strategies outlined in this toolkit are rooted in grassroots, on-the-ground work, and are crucial for the collective survival of LGBTQTS youth living at all of these intersections. They are a critical piece of LGBTQTS advocacy that has the potential to transform young people’s lives. We are sharing these policy strategies in an effort not to just change the lived material conditions of LGBTQTS youth of color and Indigenous youth, but to build knowledge and power among LGBTQTS youth.”

Shaena Johnson, Program Director at BreakOUT! said “The toolkit shares network members’ experiences with organizing and advocacy around policing issues affecting LGBTQTS youth in the South, in rural areas, and in urban centers with centering the voices, leadership, and experiences of LGBTQTS youth of color in legislative, policy, and media justice campaigns, as well as in the historic Department of Justice investigation and consent decree in New Orleans.”

For more information regarding the Get Yr Rights Toolkit, contact:

Verónica Bayetti Flores

Wes Ware

Mitchyll Mora

For Social Media, please use the hashtag #GetYrRights 

For more information on how you can support the campaign for Justice for Jessie Hernandez being led by Get Yr Rights member Branching Seedz of Resistance, please follow #JusticeforJessie, check out the Facebook page and support Jessie’s family here.