Tyahija (they/them/theirs) will eradicate institutionalized barriers that constrict freedom, full expression, and the rights of School Age Black and Brown girls and Transgender/Nonbinary and Gender Nonconforming (TNBGNC) youth in Brooklyn, New York.
Black and Brown girls and TNBGNC youth are criminalized for normal adolescent behavior, trauma and mental health issues, substance abuse issues, and survival-based offenses that require support and resources rather than discipline and incarceration. Schools end up as hostile environments that recreate the structural oppression that Black and Brown girls and TNBGNC youth face in the outside world. As a result, schools across the country have profound impacts on the physical, mental, and emotional health of youth and serve as pathways to juvenile detention. When Black and Brown girls and TNBGNC youth resist discrimination, harassment, and violence in their learning environments, they are criminalized and punished rather than protected and supported. Through advocacy and research, Tyahija will challenge these structural forces and advocate for the equity of the Black and Brown girls and TNBGNC youth.
Tyahija will build cultural competencies and knowledge; educate community members and youth; and eliminate sexual, gendered, and racial biases in the community. They will host pro bono legal clinics on the juvenile legal system and its victimization of Black and Brown girls and TNBGNC youth and community events on institutionalized barriers. Finally, they will develop a resource guide for legal professionals.
Lauren will interrupt the cycle of poverty and improve the life outcomes of LA’s transition-age foster youth by preventing and challenging vehicle impoundments that perpetuate hardships and punish indigence.
LA County serves over 25,000 foster youth in the nation’s largest foster care system. These youth face a dramatic reduction in support and resources when they turn 18. Without an adult to guide them through the processes of obtaining car registration, insurance, and a license, they are at greater risk of amassing Vehicle Code violations that can lead to car impoundment. When an affected youth cannot pay fees associated with impoundment, the car is sold and the youth still owes outstanding loans on the car they no longer possess, while struggling with the consequences of having no car in the vast, dispersed region of LA.
In law school, Lauren worked with homeless and low-income adult clients who were underserved throughout their lives at times when additional support would have mattered. She hopes that by serving young clients, she can interrupt patterns that inhibit independence before they begin.
Lauren’s project will prevent impoundments before they occur and challenge those that do occur. She will host legal clinics to counsel transition-age foster youth through Vehicle Code violations and offer direct representation to youth with traffic citations or parking tickets that make them vulnerable to impoundment. Lauren will also represent youth at impoundment hearings and update a state-wide advocacy manual to guide others through the process of challenging impoundments.