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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, April 15, 2011
Many students may not be aware of the extent to which schools are censoring and blocking their access to these sites. The ACLU’s Don’t Filter Me campaign has set up a useful quiz to help you find out if your school is filtering your access to LGBT webpages.  
Published: 
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Women's History Month gives us an opportunity to reflect on the great strides women and girls have made toward achieving equal rights and equal treatment. Yet, in some ways we are still stuck in the past — as I was reminded of recently when I had the opportunity to step into classrooms in urban Seattle and hear the stories of pregnant and parenting students who are being pressured to drop out of school. As I stand in front of these young women and share information about their rights under Title IX, jaws drop and hands shoot up with questions.
Published: 
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
At 27 years old, I have experienced devastating breakups, the death of family members, and the loss of a much-loved dog smack during the middle of law school finals. Yet, one of my worst memories comes from an experience I had while attending a Christian high school.
Published: 
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Eva’s son died from gang violence.  Every day she lives with an aching desire to hold him again.  But despite her grief, she opens her home to young people in her community, some of whom are at risk to be involved in gangs. A Yakima Valley resident, she wants to keep them off the streets and safe from the violence.   Eva is angry that her son is no longer with her, yet she wants more opportunities to help young people rather than sending them behind bars.
Published: 
Friday, January 14, 2011
The benefits to students of playing high school and collegiate sports have been well-documented, from improved academic performance to better physical and emotional health.  In October 2010, the Women’s Sports Foundation and the National Center for Lesbian Rights released a ground-breaking report that provides policy recommendations for high school and college institutions on the inclusion of transgender student athletes.  On the Team: Equal Opportunities for Transgender Student-Athletes was drafted after WSF and NCLR held a national think tank in Indianapolis in October 2009, bringing together medical, legal, and athletic experts from all over the country. The report contains the think tank’s policy recommendations about how to include transgender students in sports while taking into account the competitive contexts of high school and collegiate athletics, along with medical and legal concerns.  
Published: 
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Let’s take truancy out of the top five reasons that girls in Washington state are locked up each year. According to the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee’s 2009 Annual Report, truancy was among the leading reasons for detention of girls. Statistics are not posted yet for 2010. There appears to be some good news in the same chart: in 2006, 2007 and 2008, more than 700 girls were locked up each year for truancy; in 2009, the chart shows “only” 273 were locked up for truancy.  The bad news is that 273 were locked up in 2009 for truancy. And Washington law still allows incarceration as a consequence for kids who miss school without excuse in violation of a court’s order telling them that, as the law says, they have to go to school. Others are locked up if they miss a court hearing in a truancy case.
Published: 
Thursday, December 9, 2010
The first and most basic step every school district must take to address harassment and bullying is to adopt strong, clear anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies and procedures.  While many school districts have such policies (somewhere), too often they are outdated, confusing, underutilized, or unknown to the general school community.  That will hopefully change now, with the December 8th publication of the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) new Model Anti-Harassment and Bullying Policy and Procedures.   
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

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