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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

News Release, Published: 
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A student who endured severe harassment by other students throughout junior high and high school is suing the Aberdeen School District for failing to take steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment. The district's failure to act created a hostile educational environment for the student, says the ACLU-WA, which is representing him.

Published: 
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
LGBT teenagers are more likely than their peers to be punished by schools, police and the courts, according to a recent Washington Post article which cites the first nationwide study of its kind to highlight these important issues. The study found that LGBT youth are 40% more likely to receive educational and criminal justice-related punishments, such as expulsions, police stops, arrests and incarceration.  These studies confirm what the ACLU has known for a long time: that LGBT students are often discriminated against from a young age, which denies them equal access to education and robs them of future opportunities.  
Published: 
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
For some students, playing on a sports team can make the difference between success and failure in school. It can be the one thing that keeps them coming to school each day, motivates them to keep their grades up, or connects them to a caring adult in the building. So, when a school cuts sports opportunities for any of its students, it’s unfortunate. When a school cuts opportunities for students who are already underrepresented in sports and activities, or otherwise disadvantaged, the consequences can be significant and it can raise potential civil rights issues. Read more
Published: 
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Schools must protect students from harassment, and if they don’t, the federal government will have something to say about it.  That was the message sent by the White House and the Department of Education on October 26th when they issued new guidance designed to make clear that schools have a legal duty to protect students from harassment under existing federal civil rights statutes. Read more
Published: 
Monday, October 25, 2010
When teens get pregnant, most drop out of school. When they drop out of school, they likely face a life of economic insecurity. And the role that discrimination plays in their decisions to drop out raises serious civil rights concerns. Read more
Published: 
Friday, October 22, 2010
Fall is a heavy season for truancy courts. Truancy court is a place where the school and the court systems converge. In truancy proceedings, it’s important to safeguard both the due process rights of youth and their best educational interests. Read more
Published: 
Friday, September 17, 2010
I watched the Storm’s championship-clinching game last night with my 11-year-old daughter.  To her it was an exciting game, to me it also was a political event.  I’ve been a Title IX advocate for 25 years, and I still can’t contain my sense of accomplishment when I see prominent coverage of women’s sports. (And I still sometimes get choked up when I see a team of girls swarm a soccer field or a basketball court). Read more
Published: 
Friday, August 20, 2010
Washington’s constitution defines education as the “paramount duty” of the state and makes education a fundamental constitutional right. Public schools are one of the largest and most important parts of government, and at some point public education directly affects the life of almost everyone in America. The ACLU works to protect student rights in the courts and in the state legislature. But the most valuable thing the ACLU does to help preserve and extend the rights of youth, though, is educating students and families about rights they may not even realize they have. Read more
Published: 
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Under federal Title IX and state law, girls and boys in Washington state are supposed to have equal opportunities to participate in high school sports All too often, however, boys’ opportunities far exceed girls’ because schools offer more boys sports, more squads within a sport, or bigger team rosters. Read more

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