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Lgbtq Youth Policy Ppm 3442 00

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Policy & Procedures Manual

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth
(PPM 3442.00)
Approved By:

Date Issued:

Gladys Carrión (signed)
Gladys Carrion

March 17, 2008

Related Laws:

Division/Office:

Contact Office/Bureau/Unit:

Civil Rights Law Section 40-c
Executive Law Article 15

Juvenile Justice and
Opportunities for
Youth

Office of Program
Services

Supporting Regulations:

American Correctional Association Standards (ACA):
3-JTS-3D-03, 3D-06, 3D-06-1, 3D-06-3, 3D-06-6, 3D-06-7,
3D-06-9 and 3D-08
Related Policies:
Supersedes:

Regulatory Bulletins & Directives:

Number of
Pages:

Appendix
Pages:

3

11

N/A

SUMMARY:

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services is committed to providing
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in residential and after-care
programs it operates with a safe and discrimination-free environment.

I.

POLICY
It shall be the policy of the New York State Office of Children and Family
Services (OCFS) to maintain and promote a safe environment for lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in OCFS operated
residential and after-care programs. All OCFS staff, volunteers and contract
providers are prohibited from engaging in any form of discrimination against or
harassment of youth on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender
identity, and gender expression. OCFS is committed to providing a healthy and
accepting setting for all youth placed in its facilities and after-care programs by
training staff and educating youth to respect each individual. Any discrimination
against or harassment of youth, including by other youth, will not be tolerated.
The provision of services within OCFS facilities and programs shall be based on
professional standards as found in the New York State Office of Children and
Family Services Guidelines for Good Childcare Practices with Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth (LGBTQ Youth Guidelines) and
shall be free of institutional and personal bias. OCFS staff shall recognize and
address the individual needs of the youth and shall apply OCFS policies and
practices fairly to all youth in our facilities and after-care programs.

OCFS Policy & Procedures Manual

II.

2
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,
and Questioning Youth (PPM 3442.00)

DEFINITIONS
LGBTQ youth – For purposes of the protections of this policy, LGBTQ youth
shall include youth who have self-identified or are perceived by others as lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexual orientation or gender
identity.
For an explanation of other terms, see the Glossary used with the LGBTQ Youth
Guidelines.

III.

PROCEDURES
A. Training of Staff - OCFS shall provide strength-based training to all Division
of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth (DJJOY) staff, the
Ombudsmen, and other appropriate OCFS staff regarding the goals and
requirements of this policy, including what behavior constitutes
discrimination and harassment and the procedures for preventing and
reporting such behavior. Facility and after-care staff, the Ombudsmen, and
other appropriate OCFS staff shall also receive training on the LGBTQ Youth
Guidelines.
B. Resource and Policy Dissemination to Youth – OCFS will provide written
and verbal information to all youth in OCFS facilities and after-care programs
regarding this policy, including their rights and responsibilities under this
policy and the procedures for reporting complaints. OCFS will provide
LGBTQ resources for youth, including a booklist, website list of community
resource supports, and other appropriate books and materials. OCFS will
strive to provide these resources in languages other than English, as needed.
C. Reporting Responsibilities and Procedures for Staff - OCFS staff has an
obligation to report conduct by other staff that may be in violation of this
policy. All reports shall be made according to current OCFS protocols. OCFS
staff shall not tolerate discriminatory or harassing behavior by youth towards
other youth and shall take immediate action to intervene in any such
situations.
D. Incident Reporting Procedures for Youth – The Resident Grievance
Program and Ombudsman shall be available for youth to express and resolve
concerns regarding their care and treatment.

2

OCFS Policy & Procedures Manual

3
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,
and Questioning Youth (PPM 3442.00)

E. Enforcement – Supervisory and management staff shall treat all incidents of
discrimination and harassment as serious and follow up promptly. In
accordance with OCFS policy and procedures, and consistent with current
collective bargaining agreements, alleged violations of this policy by staff or
youth will be investigated promptly and, if determined to have occurred, will
result in corrective or disciplinary action
F. Childcare Practices for LGBTQ Youth - OCFS has developed LGBTQ
Youth Guidelines to assist staff in providing services in a respectful and
culturally competent manner.

IV.

APPENDIX
New York State Office of Children and Family Services Guidelines for Good
Childcare Practices with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning
Youth.

3

NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES
GUIDELINES FOR GOOD CHILDCARE PRACTICES WITH LESBIAN,
GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, AND QUESTIONING YOUTH
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is committed to
providing quality services to all youth in our care. OCFS prohibits discrimination on the basis
of race, creed, color, age, sex, national origin, religion, marital status, mental or physical
disability, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, veteran status and criminal
record. No person in the agency shall unlawfully discriminate against other persons in the
course of their work. OCFS is committed to respecting the dignity of all youth, and keeping
them safe and secure, regardless of individual differences. The agency does not tolerate
discrimination by staff, volunteers, contract providers or youth.
The OCFS Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth Policy protects from
discrimination both youth who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning
(LGBTQ) and those who are perceived by others as LGBTQ.
The following protocols are operational guidelines for good childcare practices with LGBTQ
youth in order to provide services in a respectful and culturally competent manner.

SECTION I: TRAINING
In order to raise awareness and capacity for staff to respond to gender identity, sexual
orientation, and gender expression issues in residential settings and after-care programs, all
facility and after-care administrators and staff, the Ombudsmen, and other appropriate OCFS
staff will be required to attend OCFS LGBTQ training.

SECTION II: DISCLOSURE
A.

The only way that anyone knows someone's sexual orientation or gender identity is if
they tell you. There are no tools or instruments to assess a person’s sexual orientation
or gender identity.

B.

Youth will disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to staff when, and if,
they feel ready and when, and if, a safe environment and trusting relationship has been
created for such disclosure. Staff should not directly ask youth if they are LGBTQ.
Direct questioning can make it more difficult for a youth to disclose. Most youth who
are directly asked will deny that they are, mostly for reasons related to safety or
perceived differential negative treatment. If youth disclose that they are lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, or questioning, it is important to talk with them about it in an
open and understanding fashion. Staff should never just move on; talk about what it
means for this youth to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 1 of 11

C.

It is important to respect a youth’s interest in confidentiality. Consistent with general
practice, information must be reported to a supervisor if it involves a danger to self
and others. If you are not in a position to keep information that a youth discloses
private, you should tell the youth that such information may have to be shared with
your supervisor or fellow staff. Also, youth should be informed that under certain
circumstances, such as in connection with a preferred name request or
placement/transfer request, parents may become aware that a youth has disclosed that
he or she is LGBTQ or has raised issues relating to gender identity, gender
expression, or sexual orientation.

SECTION III: YOUTH PLACEMENT
OCFS has or will develop designated units within its facilities (both male and female, secure
and limited-secure/nonsecure) that have staff trained to provide services for LGBTQ youth.
Placement at specialized LGBTQ facilities operated by voluntary agencies will also be
considered, when appropriate, for an individual youth. Requests by youth for placement at or
transfer to a facility based upon sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression can be
made during the reception/intake process or at any other time and are to be forwarded to the
Bureau of Behavioral Health Services for consideration by the LGBTQ Decision-making
Committee.

SECTION IV: LGBTQ DECISION-MAKING COMMITTEE
Certain issues that require consideration of individual circumstances are to be referred to the
LGBTQ Decision-making Committee (Decision-making Committee) for determination.
A.

The issues to be referred to the Decision-making Committee include placement of
youth in or transfer to a facility based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or
gender expression, and the wearing of a uniform (other than undergarments) that is
consistent with a youth’s identified gender.

B.

When facility staff receive a request from a youth concerning either of these issues,
the request should be referred immediately to the Bureau of Behavioral Health
Services, along with all relevant reports and facility records. The Bureau of
Behavioral Health Services will acknowledge the request and initiate an assessment
within one week. The youth will receive a response to his or her or request within
two weeks.

C.

The Decision-making Committee is comprised of staff from the Office of the
Ombudsman, the Division of Legal Affairs (DLA), and the Division of Juvenile
Justice and Opportunities for Youth (DJJOY), including administrative, behavioral
health, medical services personnel, and designated facility staff, with assistance from
LGBTQ consultants.

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 2 of 11

D.

An LGBTQ Appellate Review Committee, comprised of the Executive Assistant to
the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner for DJJOY, and the Deputy
Commissioner for DLA and General Counsel, is available, upon request, to review
the decision of the Decision-making Committee. The LGBTQ Appellate Review
Committee will respond to a youth’s appeal from the decision of the Decisionmaking Committee within one week.

SECTION V: MENTAL HEALTH ASSESSMENTS
A.

Clinicians should not assume any pathology simply because a youth expresses a
different gender identity or sexual orientation. All adolescents experience
developmental and social challenges during this time. However, LGBTQ youth
frequently face additional pressures based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Clinicians should be aware that difficulties in coping with these challenges frequently
result in co-morbid problems including increased suicide risk, depression and anxiety,
tobacco/drug/alcohol use, and school drop-out.

B.

It is important that every youth receive a comprehensive bio-psycho-social screening
and assessment, so that individual special needs can be identified and a treatment
response provided.
•

Assessments should include a family evaluation, where possible, and where
clinically indicated, a psychiatric assessment to assess fully for any related
mental health distress and potential co-morbid problems requiring mental
health care and treatment.

C.

Clinicians should help LGBTQ youth explore their feelings about their gender
identity or sexual orientation, along with related issues and questions, in a safe,
affirming manner. Clinicians should help youth reduce co-occurring problems or
distress related to their gender identity or sexual orientation, and develop their
strengths, coping skills, and resiliency. Staff working with transgender youth should
become familiar with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s
Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders (WPATH Standards of Care for
GID).

D.

Where clinically indicated, the facility clinical staff working with transgender youth
should refer the youth for a diagnostic assessment by or in consultation with
specialists in the field of LGBTQ youth or gender identity disorders.

SECTION VI: SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Due to the high risk of substance abusing behaviors for youth, a comprehensive assessment of
the youth and family history should be incorporated into the overall bio-psycho-social
assessment. The majority of LGBTQ youth report alcohol and drug use as common
mechanisms for coping with feelings of severe isolation.

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 3 of 11

SECTION VII: MEDICAL
A.

All youth arriving at an OCFS facility have an initial health screening, which includes
identification of existing medications being taken by the youth. If, during the course
of that screening, the continuation of hormone therapy is identified as an issue for the
youth, staff should follow OCFS policy and practice for the continuation of
medication upon admission. If hormone therapy is discontinued for the youth, the
youth should continue to be monitored by medical and behavioral health staff in order
to treat any symptoms that may occur as a result.

B.

Youth who request to begin hormone therapy while in OCFS care should be referred
to facility medical and behavioral health staff for an evaluation. Facility medical and
behavioral health staff will inform and seek guidance from the Bureau of Behavioral
Health Services. OCFS will make a determination regarding the initiation of
hormone therapy based on accepted standards of care (see WPATH Standards of Care
for GID) and the youth’s best interest. Appropriate consent must first be sought and
obtained as required by law.

C.

Facility medical staff should provide appropriate medical information and education
for all youth inclusive of LGBTQ issues.

SECTION VIII: COUNSELING
A.

If a youth discloses that he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning
while in placement, the youth should be offered appropriate counseling and
information to support individual, family, and health issues.

B.

The supervisory staff are responsible for referring a youth for counseling, mental
health, health, or other program services as appropriate.

C.

All staff should recognize that many adolescents are still exploring their sexuality,
gender identity, and/or gender expression, testing boundaries, confused about the
sexual terminology, and/or questioning their own sexuality and/or gender identity.
This may be particularly true of youth who have been victims of sexual abuse and
have not previously been provided treatment.

D.

Counselors should facilitate exploration of any gender or sexuality issues with
LGBTQ youth by being open, non-judgmental, and empathic.

E.

Counseling sessions for the entire youth population should include group and
individual opportunities to discuss any gender identity questions or feelings that may
arise as a result of having youth in the residential setting who may be perceived as
“different.”

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 4 of 11

SECTION IX: LGBTQ LITERATURE AND RESOUCES
A.

Programs should affirm the cultural identity of the youth whom they serve with
respect to creating supportive environments for them. It is important that educational
books and other reading materials for youth interested in learning more about
LGBTQ identity are available. Materials should be made available in languages other
than English as needed and as funding is available.

B.

LGBTQ literature and other visible signs should be available in the common areas,
office, etc., that indicate staff are knowledgeable and open to communication on this
topic.

C.

Youth should have access to supportive resources with age appropriate LGBTQ
information, including a book list, website list of community resource supports, and
advocacy groups.

SECTION X: GENERAL FACILITY OPERATIONS
All OCFS youth must abide by the Resident Manual and are accountable for their behavior,
and for being respectful of others and the setting in which they are placed as a result of their
adjudication.
A.

Safety and security, as well as OCFS good childcare practices, remain paramount for
all youth in OCFS facilities.

B.

All youth, regardless of gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation, need
to feel safe in their surroundings, in order for positive programming and youth
outcomes to occur.

C.

Rules must be maintained with dignity and respect for all residents, regardless of their
gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

D.

Staff should help youth to understand the rationale behind their decisions, and youth
should be given the appropriate opportunity to express themselves.

E.

Staff should provide youth with information about the Decision-making Committee,
and the right to request a uniform or facility change through the Bureau of Behavioral
Health Services.

F.

Unless there is reason to the contrary, staff should not over–emphasize gender
identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation issues (i.e., youth are placed in
OCFS facilities because of their behaviors, not their gender identities, gender
expression, or sexual orientations).

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 5 of 11

G.

Staff should set a good example and make residents aware that any anti-LGBTQ
threats of violence, actual violence, or disrespectful or suggestive comments or
gestures will not be tolerated concerning any OCFS youth.

H.

The treatment team should decide how to approach certain issues, as they would with
behavior of any youth (i.e., as a team or in each specific unit). Good childcare
practice requires consistency.

I.

Certain behaviors are inappropriate regardless of gender identity, gender expression
or sexual orientation (e.g., seductive or sexual behavior, exchanging sexuallysuggestive notes). Staff must maintain boundaries for safe and appropriate behavior
with all residents.

J.

As with all residents, transgender residents shall be included in all activities or jobs
for which they qualify and show a positive interest.

K.

Remember that transgender female youth see themselves as females, not gay males,
and that transgender male youth see themselves as males, not lesbians. Sexual
orientation and gender identity are two separate things. (See the attached glossary.)

SECTION XI: COMMUNICATION AND DOCUMENTATION
A.

Ongoing communication among staff and between staff and youth is central to good
childcare.

B.

Documentation is an essential treatment team communication tool. All staff who
interact with a resident should maintain ongoing documentation in the Youth
Development Log (YDL) or treatment team notes in the established format, so that
critical information is shared, and appropriate care and treatment coordinated and
provided.

C.

In keeping with established policy and procedures for all youth, confidentiality must
be maintained in all forms of communication, including written documentation.

D.

Documentation protects the resident and facility staff.
Any complaints of
discrimination or harassment shall be investigated and remediated according to
standard operating OCFS policies and procedures, including the OCFS LGBTQ
Youth Policy, and consistent with current collective bargaining agreements.

SECTION XII: LANGUAGE AND NAME
A.

Use the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender in an appropriate context when
talking with youth about diversity, and do not use the value-laden, more antiquated
terms, “homosexual” or “transvestite.”

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 6 of 11

B.

It is OCFS policy to allow residents to request use of a preferred first name rather than
their legal name. Consistent with that policy, all youth may designate a preferred first
name that they wish to use. Youth will also be referred to by the pronoun that the youth
states reflects the youth’s identified gender or gender expression. Staff should
understand that the ability to choose a preferred name and/or pronoun that is consistent
with the youth’s identified gender, rather than the youth’s sex at birth, is often especially
important to transgender youth. Preferred names and pronouns are used in addressing
youth and in documentation. Names affiliated with gangs or that otherwise present
safety issues will not be permitted. LGBTQ youth requesting use of a preferred name
should be informed that it is OCFS policy to discuss preferred name requests with the
youth’s family. This is important because the youth may not yet have disclosed his or
her sexual orientation or gender identity to family members. Youth are permitted to
designate a different preferred name no more often than once every six months.

C.

Although a legal name change is not required for a youth to use a preferred name while
in OCFS custody, many transgender youth may be interested in legally changing their
names to ones that reflect their gender identity. A transgender youth who is interested in
applying to legally change his or her name shall be referred to the Office of the
Ombudsman and may also be referred to the Peter Cicchino Youth Project of the Urban
Justice Center (1-877 LGBT LAW or 646-602-5636) or the Sylvia Rivera Law Project
(212-337-8550). See the LGBTQ Resource List for additional programs that may
provide assistance with legal name changes.

SECTION XIII: CLOTHING
A.

All residents wear uniforms.

B.

All residents may receive undergarments of their choice among available agency
supplies regardless of gender, except where therapeutically not indicated. Other
requests by youth for clothing consistent with their identified gender shall be referred
to the Decision-making Committee.

C.

Bras must be removed at night for safety reasons.

D.

Residents shall not be required to wear skirts or nightgowns and shall be permitted to
wear pants or pajamas.

SECTION XIV: INDIVIDUAL BEDROOMS
Transgender youth shall be placed in a facility that can provide individual sleeping quarters
(one-person bedroom) to allow for privacy. Any exceptions must be authorized by the
Associate Commissioner for Programs and Services and documented in the youth record.

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 7 of 11

SECTION XV: HAIR AND OTHER PERSONAL GROOMING
Grooming rules and restrictions, including rules regarding hair, make-up, shaving, etc., shall be
the same in male and female facilities. A resident should not be prevented from, or disciplined
for, a form of personal grooming because it does not match gender norms.
Examples of grooming rules that may be of interest to LGBTQ youth include:
•

Long hair can be tied back with a scrunchie.

•

Residents with long hair can receive a basic cut and shape.

•

Fingernails must be maintained at a length that supports safety and security.

•

Residents may, but are not required to, shave their faces and bodies, as permitted by
OCFS practice, in keeping with safety and security concerns.

•

Jewelry can be worn as permitted by OCFS policy.

SECTION XVI: BATHROOM FACILITIES
A.

Transgender youth shall be allowed to use individual stalls, within commonly
accepted time limits.

B.

Transgender youth shall be allowed to shower privately, if possible. When individual
showers are not available, they should be the first or last in line so they can shower
separately.

SECTION XVII: SEARCH ISSUES
A.

All youth will be searched as provided by OCFS policy and procedure. Per OCFS
policy, all employees conducting the search must assure its thoroughness while
maintaining the dignity of the resident being searched.

B.

Transgender youth may request that male or female staff conduct a strip search when
such search is required. This request will be accommodated, whenever possible,
considering staffing and safety needs.

SECTION XVIII: TRANSITION/ DISCHARGE PLANNING
A.

Members of the Treatment Team shall collaborate and share information with other
facilities to coordinate youth’s transitions.

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 8 of 11

B.

It is critical to work with the youth’s family throughout placement to enhance
community re-entry efforts. LGBTQ youth are frequently estranged from family. A
large percentage of homeless youth self-identify as LGBTQ.

C.

Families of LGBTQ youth in OCFS facilities may benefit from additional community
resources.

D.

Staff working with LGBTQ youth shall identify and become familiar with community
resources to support LGBTQ youth and their families. Staff should assist families of
LGBTQ youth in identifying supportive resources and professionals in appropriate
LGBTQ issues in their area. (See the LGBTQ Resource List.)

E.

Some resources that may be helpful for some youth may not be helpful for LGBTQ
youth if they are not accepting and supportive of LGBTQ youth. Staff should
investigate resources to determine their appropriateness for LGBTQ youth.

F.

Staff shall help youth to reintegrate into the community and be safe.

G.

The OCFS Release Planning Coordinators can provide assistance either directly or
through OCFS Regional Coordinators when necessary for housing for LGBTQ youth.

SECTION XIX: REPORTING
As outlined in the OCFS LGBTQ Youth Policy, harassment and discrimination on the basis of
actual or perceived gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation will not be
tolerated. OCFS staff has an obligation to report conduct by other staff in violation of the
policy. OCFS staff shall not tolerate discriminatory or harassing behavior by residents toward
other residents and are to take immediate action to intervene in any such situations.

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 9 of 11

OCFS GUIDELINES FOR GOOD CHILDCARE PRACTICES WITH LGBTQ YOUTH

GLOSSARY OF TERMS
LGBTQ is an acronym commonly used to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and
questioning individuals.
Gay refers to a person who is emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to people of the
same gender. Sometimes, it may be used to refer to gay men and boys only. It is preferred
over the term “homosexual.”
Lesbian refers to a female who is emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to other
females.
Bisexual refers to a person who is attracted to, and may form sexual and romantic relationships
with, males and females.
Questioning refers to a person, often an adolescent, who is exploring or questioning issues of
sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in his or her life. Some questioning people
will ultimately identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender; others will self-identify as
heterosexual and not transgender.
Sexual orientation refers to a person’s emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction to persons of
the same or different gender.
Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of themselves as male, female, no gender,
or another gender, regardless of anatomy.
Gender expression refers to the manner in which a person expresses his or her gender through
clothing, appearance, behavior, speech, etc. A person’s gender expression may vary from the
norms traditionally associated with his or her assigned sex at birth. Gender expression is a
separate concept from sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, a male may exhibit
an effeminate manner, but identify as a heterosexual male.
Transgender may be used as an umbrella term to include all persons whose gender identity or
gender expression do not match society’s expectations of how an individual of that gender
should behave in relation to his or her gender. For purposes of protection from discrimination
and harassment, transgender refers to both self-identified transgender individuals and
individuals perceived as transgender without regard to whether they qualify for a diagnosis of
Gender Identity Disorder.
Gender Identity Disorder or GID is a diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV). Some individuals whose gender identity conflicts
with the sex assigned to them at birth may be diagnosed with GID. Certain treatments, such as
hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery, may be recommended for individuals diagnosed
with GID.

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 10 of 11

Transgender female youth are young people who were assigned the sex of male at birth and
who now identify as female. Similarly, the terms transgender girls and trans women refer to
those who now identify as girls or women.
Transgender male youth are young people who were assigned the sex of female at birth and
who now identify as male. Similarly, the terms transgender boys and trans men refer to those
who now identify as boys or men.

APPENDIX: LGBTQ YOUTH (PPM 3442.00)

Page 11 of 11

 

 

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