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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.
Stop pushing special education students out of school:  ACLU of Washington lawsuit seeks to stop students who require special education from being pushed out of Washington's public schools
PSA to student protesters: You have rights!
Taking a knee: A guide for administrators, teachers, parents, and students
Prosecutors should think twice before charging teens who sext

Resources

News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Reversing an appeals court ruling, the Washington Supreme Court today found that a child has no right to counsel under the due process clause of the state or federal constitutions at initial truancy hearings. The ACLU of Washington submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case (Bellevue v. E.S.) supporting the right to counsel at such hearings. The brief said that the child’s liberty, privacy, and education were all at stake, and that the risks of error – even in initial truancy proceedings – warranted the child’s right to be represented by counsel.
Published: 
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thinking back to myself at 13 years old, I recall a constant tension between the child I was and the adult I was becoming. Now I try to picture that version of myself being pulled from a classroom and taken to a conference room where two police officers and two school administrators want to question me about a neighborhood robbery. Would I have told officers I preferred they stop questioning me?  Or that I wanted to leave?
Published: 
Monday, June 27, 2011
This month, the Richland School Board voted 3 to 2 to exclude Sherman Alexie’s award-winning book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from Richland high school classrooms. Alexie’s semiautobiographical novel won the National Book Award for young adults in 2007. It tells the story of Arnold “Junior” Spirit, a teenager growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington, where Alexie also grew up. Junior struggles as an awkward but bright 14-year-old who loves drawing comics. The book tackles many tough issues, including racism, alcoholism, poverty, death, as well as more typical teenage struggles like fitting in. The book was piloted for Richland’s ninth-grade language arts curriculum because of its realistic portrayal of the high school experience and compelling theme of perseverance. The piloting teacher acknowledged that the book contains some profanity and sexual references.
Published: 
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Some good news from the feds: the U.S. Department of Education has just sent a "dear colleague" letter to school districts in Washington and across the nation reminding them of students' legal right to form gay-straight alliances (GSAs).
Published: 
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
ACLU-WA Legislative Director Shankar Narayan was one of a group of lobbyists recognized with a Voices for Children award at  the annual awards luncheon the Children’s Alliance on Tuesday.  The lobbyist group, known as the Racial Equity Team, was presented the award in recognition of their work to advance racial equality issues in the 2012 legislative session. 
Published: 
Monday, June 6, 2011
Last month, a high school in southeastern Washington conducted a suspicionless drug search. Students were asked to leave their classroom so that a police officer with a “drug-detection dog” could check their backpacks for signs of drug possession. After the search, two students were singled out for a more invasive search and questioning. One had marijuana paraphernalia in his backpack; in the other, no signs of drugs or drug paraphernalia could be found. Good news for the second student—after the humiliating and anxiety-producing search was complete, he was permitted to go back to class.
Published: 
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Recently, three Kennewick High School students formed a gay-straight alliance (GSA), the first among all Kennewick schools. They did so in the face of months-long opposition by some members of the Kennewick School Board to recognizing GSAs as non-curricular student clubs. Now, to its credit, the Kennewick School Board has voted 3-2 to give GSAs the same access to school resources enjoyed by other non-curricular student clubs.
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.

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