Examining the Intersections of Sexual Orientation, Race, and Gender in the Juvenile Legal System in Utah

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George Zamantakis, University of Utah

Social and Behavioral Sciences

This thesis examines the intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation, and age as they relate to queer* youth in Utah who were engaged in the juvenile legal system. Few authors, activists, and academics have taken a stand against the prison system. However, several, such as Michelle Alexandra and Angela Y. Davis, have begun to voice the inequitable conditions through which people of color are funneled into the prison industrial complex and laws are racially biased, so as to relegate people of color to a space of invisibility. Even fewer, though, have examined how this conversation relates to queer* identity (queer* meaning an umbrella term for lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc.). In order to understand these unique experiences, interviews will be conducted with individuals who self-identify as queer* and were at one point involved in the juvenile legal system. The study is a qualitative report on the abuse, trauma, and victimization that these youth have faced in their unique experience, as well as the ways in which they entered the system. While the study has not yet been conducted, much has been learned through an in-depth literature review, finding that there is little literature to document these experiences. There are few calls for change and abolition. There are even fewer calls to dismantle systems of oppression that are leading these youth into the criminal legal system. This paper is meant to be a call to action.