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The “Truancy Ticket Law” and Why It Matters to Queer Youth

If you went to high school in Los Angeles you have heard of LAMC 45.04 a.k.a the “truancy ticket law”. Under this municipal code, any high school student not in class after the first bell is subject to ticketing with fines of at least to $250. Basically, running late is a crime for students. More often than not the kids getting ticketed are on their way to class. Also the vast majority of tickets are given to black and brown youth, in disenfranchised, inner city public schools.

However, recently after years of effort, the Community Rights Campaign (CRC) is finally getting the courts and LASPD to make some changes to this policy. The have already convinced LASPD to alter their practices in issuing tickets. Right now, the Public Safety Committee is reviewing a proposal to eliminate the steep fines, and require LAPD to provide data on where and who are getting the tickets.

Personally, I would like to know how many of the kids ticketed were LGBTQ youth. In the wake of so many teen suicides that were provoked by bullying at school, I’m sure a lot of queer students would rather skip school or show up late then go to a place where they are tormented without help. What about the queer teens who drop out? Who are kicked out of their homes, and can’t attend school? The amendments to the code might not protect them.

The CRC is ultimately trying to get the code eliminated, and the serious considerations of these amendments, is an important step in a long battle. This is definitely a cause that needs attention and support, from the criminalized black and brown communities and LGBT communities in Los Angeles.

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