BreakOUT! is a New Orleans-based activist youth organization that advocates and mobilizes towards ending the criminalization of LGBT youth. Born from an unorganized group of youth coming together in response to police treatment of LGBT people in public and in prison, particularly trans women of color, BreakOUT formed in early 2011, and with funding from the Soros Justice Fellowship, opened up a space to organize.
In the years since, BreakOUT! has worked with various other local and national organizations, attended conferences and workshops, spoken at city council, held rallies, and spread their work through media campaigns, like the "We Deserve Better" film and the #KnowYourRights photo campaign. "We Deserve Better," produced with FosterBear Films, is a docu-informational short film intended to aid in New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) training courses with the hope to improve the relationships between New Orleans' LGBTQ community and the NOPD. On the flipside, #KnowYourRights is aimed at educating LGBTQ people about their rights when it comes to police mistreatment and harassment.
BreakOUT has won the Out in the Silence Award for Youth Activism, the Justice for Youth Award from The Juvenile Justice Program of Louisiana, the Hell Yes! Award from Resist Inc., and the Malala Youth Leadership Award from the Social Change Film Festival and Institute.
BreakOUT has successfully petitioned for the Department of Justice to release a Consent Decree with the NOPD that included BreakOUT's language and prohibited profiling on the basis of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Through other petition campaigns, they have also received written commitment from the NOPD to meet with BreakOUT prior to adopting any new policies.
BreakOUT! continues to build its work by collaborating with other activists and organizations, spreading their stories through social media, and mobilizing for change. Find them on facebook, follow them on twitter and instagram, and check out their website for more information.
To contact BreakOUT! email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (504) 252-9025, or reach them at 1001 S. Broad Street #119, New Orleans, LA 70125.
Contributed by Raffi Sarkissian on 7/16/14