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Two Spirits: Program helps gay youth serving time behind bars

Two Spirits: Program helps gay youth serving time behind bars

WOODBURN, Ore. – The young people locked up at MacLaren Correctional Facility are all serving time for a serious offense.

Behind the fence, some are still paying with more than their time.

“I was bullied a lit bit more than most people,” said Alejandro Estrada, who is gay.

For years, inmates like Estrada had little support.

“I have seen youth be assaulted, I have seen youth be taken advantage of. I have seen a lot of these things happen,” said MacLaren staffer Missy Mintun.

“Basically, beaten by other guys because of my orientation,” Estrada said.

“It’s a very confusing time to come out and to be able to say to yourself let alone the rest of the world – ‘hey, I am gay,’ or ‘I am transitioning, I want to be a transgender’ or ‘I am questioning my sexuality,'” Mintun said.

About 130 youth are serving time at MacLaren. About 10 of them take part in the Two Spirits group.

The name is derived from Native American culture, in which people who are gay are believed to have “two spirits.”


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