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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jewyles Gutierrez: Supervisor David Campos Stands Up for Transgender Teen Accused of Battery

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 7:10 AM

click to enlarge San Francisco Supervisor David Campos
  • San Francisco Supervisor David Campos

Last week, SF Weekly reported on the growing outraged over a recent decision by Senior Deputy Dan Cabral of the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office to charge Jewlyes Gutierrez, a transgender teen from Hercules, with battery after she defended herself from persistent bullying.

Gutierrez, 16, a student at Hercules Middle/High School got into an altercation with several other students, none of whom have been charged, after enduring non-stop bullying for months.

After reading our story, San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, an openly gay member of the Board of Supervisors, introduced a resolution at the Board's Jan. 28 meeting, calling for the charges against Gutierrez to be dropped.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Supervisors Scott Wiener, David Chiu, Eric Mar and John Avalos. If passed, the resolution will be nothing more than our local government taking a public stance on the issue.

"What happened to Jewlyes Gutierrez is reprehensible," Campos told us.

"Prosecuting Jewlyes for defending herself merely stigmatizes and

bullies her again, this time in an official capacity and by the

institutions who's duty it is to act as her protector. It is important

that as a city, we in San Francisco stand for what is right and

acknowledge that we must commit to protecting the most vulnerable among

us and demand the same of communities around the country, especially in

the Bay Area."

Here's the exact wording of Campos' non-binding resolution.

Members of the West Contra County Unified School board have apologized for the school administration not effectively responding to Jewlyes Gutierrez' requests for the protection and harassment she was experiencing because of her transgender status before the altercation.

The Costra County District Attorney's office has the discretion to decide whether or not to file charges in any particular case. Interaction with the juvenile justice system and increased use of harsh disciplinary sanctions against students often creates and perpetuates negative outcome creating in effect "school-to-prison pipeline" for youth of color and LGBTQ youth. The criminal prosecution of Jewlyes Gutierrez will deepen the wounds and harm on all sides, further exposing Gutierrez to emotional and mental health risks.
The resolution points out that transgender and gender non-conforming students face more bullying, exclusion, discrimination, verbal harassment and physical assaults than their peers.

click to enlarge Jewlyes Gutierrez
  • Jewlyes Gutierrez
Jewlyes Gutierrez

Ilona Turner of the Transgender Law Center applauded Campos' stand. "We are grateful for the leadership of Supervisor Campos and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in standing up against the criminalization of young people like Jewlyes," she says. "We're hopeful that the continuing outcry against this prosecution will encourage the Contra County DA to look at alternatives that can actually address the root problems of the bullying and harassment of transgender youth in our schools."

Roxanne Carroll explained how these issues impact transgender people and their families. "I am the mother of a transgender son, and I have a transgender grandson," she tells us. "Both of them have experienced bullying, and my grandson had some of his basic human rights denied by his former school district. I am glad that Supervisor Campos is supporting this young woman in her right to attend school without being victimized for who she is."

Since our story posted last week, a petition in support of Jewlyes Gutierrez has received sponsorship from Transadvocate, and from GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network).

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