Youth: Overview

Every day, too many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth endure harassment and rejection by their peers and family just because of who they are.

Some are cast out of their homes and families. With nowhere else to turn and few resources, many find themselves homeless or trapped in the juvenile justice system.

In 1993, the National Center for Lesbian Rights became the first LGBT legal organization in the country to launch a project dedicated to advocating for LGBTQ youth. Since its inception, NCLR’s Youth Project has worked to ensure that all LGBTQ young people are safe and able to live openly with the support they need to reach their full potential.

Through an innovative combination of education, training, advocacy, and litigation, the Youth Project has become a national model, protecting youth in child welfare, juvenile justice, and school settings. The Youth Project has also grown to focus on issues and institutions that most closely affect the daily lives of low-income LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ youth of color.

The Youth Project is now at the forefront of a major national effort to stop anti-LGBTQ discrimination against youth in state care, a venue in which many of the most marginalized LGBTQ youth find themselves. By bringing the issues faced by LGBTQ youth front and center, NCLR is changing the legal landscape for all youth, and ensuring health and safety for the next generation of young people.

In order to make the world a better place for LGBTQ youth and their allies, NCLR’s Youth Project:

  • Provides free legal information to youth, attorneys, and advocates
  • Educates school officials, child welfare professionals, and juvenile justice professionals on legal protections for LGBTQ youth through workshops and publications
  • Advocates for policies and legislation that protect and support LGBTQ youth
  • Brings cases that establish legal protections for LGBTQ youth in schools, foster care, the juvenile justice system, and other settings

Awards & Victories

Over the past two decades, NCLR’s Youth Project has won numerous cases and awards, making it one of the country’s most effective youth law programs. NCLR has been instrumental in establishing legal protections for LGBTQ youth through development of professional standards, policy advocacy, professional education and litigation.
In the courtroom, NCLR has won cases protecting LGBTQ students from discrimination and protecting gay-straight alliances in schools at both the state and federal levels; protecting LGBTQ youth from harassment and abuse in their foster homes or juvenile justice facilities; and protecting the rights of transgender youth to transition while they are in state custody.

The International Human Rights Commission, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and the Vie en Rose Awards have all recognized NCLR for its work on behalf of LGBTQ young people.

Learn more about how the Youth Project collaborates with other organizations to advocate for LGBTQ youth.