23 Aug 2014
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Bullied Transgender Teen Facing Criminal Charges Allowed to Attend Conflict Resolution

The Transgender Law Center says Jewlyes Gutierrez, 16, is hopeful she may be able to get the misdemeanor battery charges dismissed

Bullied Transgender Teen Facing Criminal Charges Allowed to Attend Conflict Resolution

A 16-year-old bullied transgender teen's battery case has been put on hold so the teen may be allowed to participate in a "restorative justice program" through the Contra Costa County Superior Court system, according to the Transgender Law Center.

Jewlyes Gutierrez got into a fight with three classmates courtyard on the Hercules High campus on Nov. 15 after enduring ongoing bullying at school about her gender identity. She is now is facing a  misdemeanor battery charge as a result of that altercation.

[Related article: Petition to Drop Charges Against Transgendered Hercules Student is Fastest Growing in California]

The Transgender Law Center posted the following statement about the court proceedings on their website:

Today Judge Thomas M. Maddock of the Juvenile Division of Contra Costa County Superior Court entered an agreement with Jewlyes Gutierrez and her Public Defender, Kaylie Simon. Ms. Gutierrez, a transgender student from Hercules, CA, is facing a battery charge after defending herself against ongoing harassment and bullying at her school, has been granted her request to begin a restorative justice program to achieve reconciliation with her peers. Ms. Gutierrez will appear in court again in May to report on her progress, and is hopeful the battery charge will be dismissed.

Kimberly Aceves, executive director of  RYSE, praised Gutierrez' handling of the aftermath since the incident in a statement posted on the Transgender Law Center website.

“As a youth leadership organization committed to the safety and well-being of all young people, RYSE is pleased to see and support a restorative process outside of the justice system that involves and addresses the needs of Jewlyes and all the students, and which fosters the opportunity for genuine healing and community building. Jewlyes’ honesty, courage, and commitment to reconnecting and healing with her peers is a compelling and inspiring call for RYSE and our partners to continue to shed light on and shift the current conditions of unwelcoming and unsafe school environments that cause harm for all students, including transgender youth and youth of color.”

An online petition started by Valerie Poquiz, Gutierrez' older sister, went viral, gaining national attention and has fueled public outcry against charges filed against the transgender teen who identifies as a female. The petition demands that the charges filed against the teen be dropped has now garnered 201,207 signatures and is growing daily.

"Jewlyes defended herself against three girls who were tormenting and then physically attacked her," Poquiz said on the online petition. "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."

[Related article:  Petition Demands Prosecutor Drop Charges Against Transgender High School Student]

Dan Cabral, the Senior Deputy Contra Costa County District Attorney handling the case says, he is not able to comment about the case because Gutierrez is a juvenile.

However, when asked whether or not the petition had any impact on the course of the case so far, Cabral did say that the petition had nothing to do with the case.
Valerie’s petition has also gained the support of the  Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Pinole-Hercules Patch will continue to monitor story. You can read more about it  here

Bay City News and Patch Editor Nicole Jones contributed to this report.

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