HERCULES, Calif. — A transgender teenager facing a misdemeanor battery charge after defending herself from school bullies was in court Thursday and entered into an agreement that allows her to participate in a restorative justice program, which would defer prosecution on the battery charge.
Judge Thomas M. Maddock ordered Jewlyes Gutierrez, a 16-year-old sophomore at Hercules High School, to report back to his courtroom in May to check on her progress in the program, which offers alternatives to the traditional juvenile and criminal justice systems, such as counseling, mediation and conflict resolution.
Jewlyes was charged on Nov. 25 for participating in a school fight that was captured on camera. Jewlyes said the girls in the incident had taunted, harassed and bullied her about her gender identity prior to the Nov. 13 incident.
Jewlyes and the other three students involved in the fight were suspended and later apologized to each other, and since the incident, there has been no further harassment. But prosecutors later charged Jewlyes after she was punished by the school district.
“I am relieved to know that Jewlyes will now have the chance to find peace and safety outside of the criminal justice system,” said Masen Davis, Executive Director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center. The center assisted Jewlyes and her family in facilitating the agreement.
“Youth belong in schools not jails. All students, including transgender students, should be able to go to school feeling safe and supported,” said Davis.