Q&A: Incarceration, Advocacy, and the LGBTQ+ Community in Texas

A rainbow flag painted on a brick wall

As Pride Month 2022 comes to a close, I sat down with the TCJE comms team to share my thoughts on what the month means and the intersections between our work and the LGBTQ+ community. Below is our Q&A!

Q: How are LGBTQ+ people uniquely impacted by the criminal legal system?

A: There are some stats that show how stark this issue is:

  • The Sentencing Project reports that LGBTQ+ adults are incarcerated at three times the rate of the total adult population.
  • Also, the number of LGBTQ+ youth behind bars is double their share of the general population.
  • In a 2022 report by Safety and Justice Challenge, they shared this: “According to the most recent National School Climate Survey, 82% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender respondents had experienced verbal harassment at school, and 36.7% reported being physically harassed. Yet many do not receive help from school staff and instead defend themselves, which often results in punishment in accordance with zero tolerance policies.”
  • In TCJE’s own report on LGBTQ+ youth and adults in the system, we found that LGBTQ students, particularly Black and Latinx students, are at high risk of forcible removal from school (i.e., out-of-school suspension), arrest at school, and referral to juvenile probation.

Q: How can TCJE and organizations like ours better support LGBTQ+ advocates?

A: I think it’s important that organizations create space for people that are part of the LGBTQ+ community to be able to give their input on how they can feel most supported. It goes back to what we do here at TCJE by uplifting the lived experiences of our community and prioritizing their voices. It’s vital to ask and not assume because everyone is different; what I say may make me feel more supported doesn't mean that it makes the next person feel the same way. TCJE and organizations like ours need to give people that space to share what they need.

Q: In your ideal world, what would next June look like for LGBTQ+ Texans?

A: I hope that at this time next year, my rights about who I love or who I am will not be up for debate in any court of law. I am hopeful that the LGBTQ+ community and the allies of this community will come together to protect those rights and that our leaders will stand up for us as well. I’m confident that we are powerful enough to get that done!

Q: What are some resources for anyone who wants to learn more about these intersections, or who may need support?

A: Here’s a list of reports, resources, and more!