Supporting LGBTQIA Youth Overcome the Unique Challenges of Being Trafficked
Singed into law on October 28, 2000 by then president Bill Clinton, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was a first-of-its-kind “national framework for the federal response to human trafficking” (Polaris 2019). The comprehensive legislation focused on strengthening penalties for trafficking as well as prevention efforts, but more importantly included providing governmental assistance to victims of trafficking, many of who were previously ineligible. Five subsequent re-authorizations of the TVPA since its initial ratification have expanded to include creating holistic, rehabilitative, and comprehensive service facilities for trafficking victims.
Locally, New York State legislators sought to emulate national efforts, especially for children, by enacting the Safe Harbour for Exploited Children Act. Safe Harbour indentified youth who had been trafficked as victims of exploitation and not criminals, providing them with essential services to address the harm they’d experienced. Safe Harbour amended and augmented two New York statutes: the Family Court Act and the Social Services Law, “providing safe housing and appropriate services, such as, counseling, medical treatment, education, drug treatment, and employment training; as well as legal avenues to seek monetary compensation in the form of restitution or a civil right of action” among other guarantees.
While both TVPA and Safe Harbour tackle some of the issues impacting youth trafficking, both fail to address the larger systemic issues faced by many trafficked youth and young adults, particularly those existing at the intersections of oppression around race, gender, immigration status, and poverty. Inside this training, we intend to highlight the structural barriers informing the lives of trafficked LGBTQIA+ youth and young adults and the underlying conditions that lead LGBTQIA+ adults to be over-represented in the sex trade industry. Additionally, we will offer strategies for engaging, supporting, and retaining commercially and sexually exploited LGBTQIA+ youth within affirming and restorative youth programming that provides greater educational and economic opportunities.