My sister, Jewlyes Gutierrez, is a 16 year old teenager, who identifies as a transgender female. Her gender identity has caused her to be a victim of taunting, harassment, and bullying by her peers. On November 13, 2013, Jewlyes defended herself against three girls who were tormenting and then physically attacked her. This was captured on video and you can see Jewlyes trying to run away. The students involved were suspended but to our disbelief, District Attorney Daniel Cabral then filed charges against Jewlyes for battery - she's the only one charged.
Jewlyes should not be charged criminally. Rather, this altercation should be the responsibility of the school district, who should take proper action and implement the necessary resources to prevent incidents like these from happening again.
One of the girls who attacked Jewlyes had repeated bullied her - even spitting gum in her face. Jewlyes sought help from the assistant principal in fear of her physical safety but the issue was not properly addressed, no necessary action was taken by the administration. The bullying continued.
Jewlyes attends Hercules High School in Hercules, CA - part of the Contra Costa Unified School District. Even the school district president disagrees with the charges being brought against Jewlyes: "This is just a young child who is 16-years-old, already going through a lot of stress," he said. "This is a remedy? Is this the way we want to deal with children?"
Violence towards transgender and queer youth is a serious problem. Recently in Oakland, CA, a transgender teen was lit on fire. What message is the District Attorney's Office sending when they prosecute a transgender teen who school officials labeled as the victim in this incident?
Sign this petition and tell District Attorney we are outraged by the decision to charge Jewlyes and that we hope he will use his discretion to allow for a restorative and educational solution rather than the court system to deal with what happened at Hercules High School.
Please tell the District Attorneys Office that we want our tax dollars spent on teaching tolerance and on conflict resolution programs in schools, not on prosecuting youth who are in need of a safe learning environment.
- Senior Deputy District Attorney, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office
Daniel J. Cabral
- District Attorney, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office
The incident that took place with my sister, Jewlyes, possess a bigger problem than pressing charges against her. The overarching issue here is the lack of educational programs and resources to create safe spaces, teach tolerance, and implement bully prevention. I am angered that Jewlyes is being prosecuted as she has already experienced so much hate and indifference by her peers. Prosecuting her teaches her peers and our community nothing except that being homophobic is okay, that discriminating others because they are different is okay, that you can act immorally as long as you don’t initiate being physical. As role models and leaders of the community, it is our job to help our youth progress and understand this ever changing society. Just because you may be able to technically prove a case does not mean you should.
The first step towards confronting oppression is recognizing it and educating yourself. I believe these charges against her continue to perpetuate the victimization of LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) identified people. This is actively supporting oppression. Mr. Cabral, I urge you to dismiss the charge and issue a formal apology to Jewlyes. This altercation should be the responsibility of the school district, who should take proper action and implement the necessary resources to prevent incidents like these from ever happening. I hope you can consider the needs of the youth and the concerns of the entire community. You have the power to pave the path and set an example for us all.
Valerie Poquiz started this petition with a single signature, and won with 217,428 supporters. Start a petition to change something you care about.