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Tyahija Martin

  • Hosted by Girls for Gender Equity
  • Sponsored by Mayer Brown LLP, Spotify
  • Service location Brooklyn, New York
  • Law school Howard University School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Tyahija (they/them/theirs) aided in the fight to eradicate the 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 at Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) in Brooklyn, New York.

Black and Brown girls and queer and gender non-conforming youth are  criminalized for normal adolescent behavior, trauma, crimes or offenses based on survival, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, and offenses that truly require social and community support and resources rather than zero- tolerance discipline or incarceration. As a microcosm of the larger society, schools end up being hostile environments that recreate the structural oppression that Black and Brown girls and queer and gender non- conforming youth face in the outside world. As a result, hostile school environments across the country have profound impacts on the mental, physical, and emotional health of youth and represent clear pathways to juvenile detention. Through legislative and administrative advocacy and legal research, Tyahija challenged these structural forces and advocate for the equity of the Black and Brown girls and TNBGNC youth.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Tyahija:

  • Initiated relationships with legal and nonlegal service providers and grassroots organizations
  • Attended and participated in Committee Hearings discussing the safety and protocols of policing in schools during COVID-19 and how it disproportionately affects BIPOC youth
  • Attended NYS Governor Hochul’s bill signing event during Transgender Awareness Week
  • Led (and continues to lead) GGE’s Amicus Brief sign-on campaign efforts with National Women’s Law Center and other organizations to support TNBGNC youth and Gender Based Violence (GBV) Survivors
  • Attended relevant conferences, meeting and building relationships with other organizations
  • Began hosting “Know Your Rights” trainings for youth and community members to educate and provide accessible materials with context, answers, and solutions about their rights in school so that they know what to expect and how to react when dealing with police/policing in their schools
  • Improved and developed relationships with youth, legal and nonlegal community-based service providers, and grassroots organizations to assess their needs and offer legal services
  • Worked with sponsors to elevate the Know Your Rights project’s reach and longevity
  • Educated BIPOC youth and community members about their rights

Meet Other Fellows Like Tyahija

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Maria Rodriguez

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Sponsor: Fish & Richardson P.C., Microsoft Corporation

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Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

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Elizabeth Lincoln

Host: Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

Sponsor: Microsoft Corporation, The Sidley Austin Foundation

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Tracie Johnson

Host: Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP