VICTORY! This morning, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in support of changing the city’s truancy policy. Now students won’t be ticketed when they are clearly on their way to school, and the fines will be greatly reduced. This is a huge win towards ending the school-to-prision pipeline for queer and trans youth!

Transgender Law Center supported changing the policy becuase the practice of fining youth who were late to school was often an added financial burden on transgender and gender non-conforming youth and their families, especially poor youth and youth of color.

Check out this video that explains why the policy was damaging for youth:

February 21, 2012

Councilmember Tony Cárdenas
councilmember.cardenas@lacity.org
Facsimile: (213) 847-0549

Councilmember Bernard Parks
Bernard.Parks.Jr@lacity.org
Facsimile: 213-485-7683

Los Angeles City Council
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(Sent via facsimile or email)

Re:  Strong Support for Motion to Amend LAMC 45.04

Dear Council Members Cardenas and Parks:

We are writing in strong support of your motion to amend the “daytime curfew” law (LAMC Section 45.04), which has proved to be detrimental to students and their families and a failure in increasing community safety. On behalf of Transgender Law Center, we would like to thank you for your leadership on this critically important issue.

The “daytime curfew” law (LAMC Section 45.04) unfairly criminalizes transgender and gender non-confirming students, especially transgender and gender non-conforming students of color. At Transgender Law Center we regularly hear from youth and parents throughout California about the constant harassment students’ face that prevents them from fully participating at school. In fact in the national survey Injustice At Every Turn, by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, has shown that 78% of transgender people experienced harassment while in K-12 settings and that 15% of these students leave school. We know that constant school harassment and bullying prevents transgender and gender non-conforming students from regularly attending school. Giving these students truancy tickets further marginalizes them from fully participating in school and may put them at additional risk for harassment in homes where they don’t experience family support of their identity.

The current daytime curfew law is ineffective, wasteful and unfairly targets all students and in particular students of color. The latest statistics reveal that police officers have issued more than 47,000 tickets between 2005 through 2009 with a disproportionate share going to African American and Latino students. Students who receive curfew tickets miss additional school, sometimes two or three days, to attend mandatory court hearings and the schools themselves lose critical Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding for those missed days. Just as importantly, research unequivocally confirms that curfew statutes don’t work – they do not reduce crime — and when we involve students with juvenile court, they are almost four times as likely to be pushed out of school early and become more susceptible to becoming involved in delinquent behavior.

The law hits families with low-incomes the hardest, forcing them to make hard choices to not pay for the basics – like food for the family – to pay the hefty fines of $250 or more per ticket. As such, the undue financial hardship on thousands of families in the City of Los Angeles clearly points to the need for reform to amend LAMC 45.04.

There are many reasons why students are late or absent, including delays with public transportation, family problems, school struggles, illness, or even the need to walk a little sister or brother to a different school with the same start time. The common sense amendments in this critical motion will stop unnecessarily penalization of students who are trying to get to school, even if they are late, ensure that families do not suffer undue financial hardships, and help minimize court involvement by instead connecting children to resources to become productive residents of Los Angeles.

We strongly urge the Los Angeles City Council to pass this motion.

Sincerely,

Kristina Wertz

Director of Policy and Programs
Transgender Law Center
cc:
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor@lacity.org. facsimile: (213) 978-0750
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, contact.lapdonline@gmail.com   facsimile: (213) 486-0168
City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich, ctrutanich@lacity.org, facsimile: (213) 978-8312
Councilmember Eric Garcetti, councilmember.garcetti@lacity.org, facsimile: (213) 613 0819
Councilmember Jan Perry, jan.perry@lacity.org, facsimile: (213)473-5946
Councilmember Dennis P. Zine, Councilmember.zine@lacity.org, facsimile: ( 213) 485-8988
Councilmember Richard Alarcon, Councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org, facsimile: 213.847.0707
Councilmember Mitchell Englander, Councilmember.Englander@lacity.org, facsimile: (213) 473-6925
Councilmember Jose Huizar, Councilmember.Huizar@lacity.org, facsimile: (213) 847-0680
Councilmember Paul Koretz, paul.koretz@lacity.org, facsimile: (213) 978-2250
Councilmember Paul Krekorian, councilmember.krekorian@lacity.org, facsimile: (213) 978-3092
Assistant President Pro Tempore Tom La Bonge, tom.labonge@lacity.org, facsimile: (213) 624-7810
President Pro Tempore Ed Reyes, councilmember.reyes@lacity.org , facsimile: (213) 485-8907
Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Councilman.rosendahl@lacity.org, facsimile: (310) 410-3946