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Charges Dropped Against Bullied Calif. Trans Teen

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday May 7, 2014
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Jewyles Gutierrez, surrounded by her family
Jewyles Gutierrez, surrounded by her family  (Source:transgenderlawcenter.org)

Prosecutors dropped battery charges this week in the case against transgender teen, Jewlyes Gutierrez, after the girl completed a restorative justice program.

The case drew widespread outrage when the teen was charged with a misdemeanor after she said she defended herself against bullying during a fight with other students at Hercules High in Hercules, Calif.

Prosecutors, however, said that they couldn’t turn a blind eye to violence.

"Where do you draw the line? A bat? A gun?" Senior Deputy District Attorney Daniel J. Cabral had told Gay Star News. "The law says we have to hold all people accountable. If we pretend something didn’t happen I don’t think it would be helpful or productive."

Gay Star News reports the Transgender Law Center had urged the District Attorney’s office to work with the families and students involved to find an alternative means of resolving their conflict. Gutierrez completed a restorative justice program conducted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency per an agreement she had reached with the DA.

But many are still concerned about the bullying aspects of the case.It was reported in February the 16-year-old sophomore said she was bullied for days by female students, who reportedly attacked her and spit gum in her face.

Gutierrez was charged on Jan. 8 with battery by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office. At the time, her public defender Kaylie Simon said, "It’s confusing as to why Jewlyes is being further victimized when she’s the one who is already being harassed and tormented... due to her gender identity."

Her family also rushed to her support, including sister Valerie Poquiz who launched a Change.org petition, signed by more than 200,000 people, demanding that the charges be dropped.

"I am relieved to know that Jewlyes will now have the chance to find peace and safety outside of the criminal justice system," Masen Davis, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center, said in a statement. "Youth belong in schools not jails. All students, including transgender students, should be able to go to school feeling safe and supported. At Transgender Law Center we have heard time and time again from transgender youth, especially youth of color, who are being excluded from being able to participate fully in school due to concerns about safety."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women’s news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes about local restaurants in her food blog, http://brooklyniscookin.blogspot.com/

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