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Youth

All young people must have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in our society. The ACLU Youth Policy project seeks to ensure that young people – particularly those who have been historically excluded or underserved – receive meaningful education and services in communities, instead of being pushed to a juvenile justice system that will undermine their ability to be successful as adults. Our current focus is on reforming school discipline policies and practices, working to limit school-based referrals to the juvenile justice system, and decreasing the over-reliance on jails and prisons for young people in the juvenile and adult criminal law systems.

Topic Resources

Published: 
Friday, October 11, 2013
Has your son or daughter been “emergency expelled” from school for a minor disciplinary infraction that presented no threat? Has a teacher searched all the texts on your phone because you forgot to turn it off during class? Has a friend who’s trying to form a Gay-Straight Alliance at your high school been told that the group is “too controversial” and cannot hold meetings on school grounds?
Published: 
Monday, July 29, 2013
The fight for fairness in education for pregnant and parenting girls recently got a big boost – from the federal government. The U.S. Department of Education took action to make sure these girls are given the same access to education and opportunities as other students.
Published: 
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Kids can’t learn if they aren’t in school.  That’s why our state has a mandatory attendance rule that requires students to go school or give a good reason why they have missed a day of class time.  But our current discipline laws allow schools to expel or suspend kids as a punishment for breaking rules sometimes for even minor infractions.
Published: 
Friday, July 20, 2012
Teenagers need to be able to explore lots of educational and career possibilities – and to do so without having the military automatically know about their personal explorations.  When you’re in high school (not to mention older), you may not know what you want to be.  Personally, I remember that when I was 16, I dreamt of being a physician.  A fan of Grey’s Anatomy, I thought that a rebellious doctor who happens to find a Prince Charming in an all-white lab coat epitomized the perfect job. 
Published: 
Friday, June 15, 2012
The due process and equal protection clauses embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every "person," and are not limited to U.S. citizens. But for the youth who are impacted by today’s announcement, their immigration status means that those basic principles of due process and equal protection are increasingly in jeopardy as applied to them.
Published: 
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
When eighth-grader Shantelle Hicks learned she was pregnant, she was determined to stick with her education. But the administrators at her New Mexico middle school said she was a “bad example” and told her she couldn’t remain in school.
Published: 
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
After enduring years of harassment in school, Russell Dickerson III offers his perspective on how educators can tackle harassment and bullying head-on. Represented by the ACLU-WA, Dickerson recently gained a major settlement from Aberdeen School District over its failure to take action to end the harassment.  He reconfirms that schools have a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for all students. Dickerson gives some insight into how on the Journal of Educational Controversy Blog.
Published: 
Friday, January 27, 2012
Since the turn of the century, juvenile courts have been separate from adult courts. The goal of juvenile courts, as the Supreme Court recognized over 50 years ago, is to determine how to rehabilitate juveniles and “save [them] from a downward career.” To further these goals, juvenile court records have historically been shielded from public view. This system allows juveniles to enter adulthood without being publicly labeled as criminals.

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