Speaking out against curfew laws in Fort Worth, TX

Posted by on January 27th, 2017
Fort Worth skyline at night

As night falls in Fort Worth, Texas, young people will have to worry about whether they will be stopped by the police just for being outside.

NYRA Chapter leader Bryce Hall spoke out against extending the juvenile curfew law in his home town of Fort Worth, Texas last Tuesday. He and other NYRA members attended the city’s Council meeting, where Bryce testified on the negative impact of curfew laws in his community. Unfortunately, the council decided to extend the curfew law for another three years. However, Bryce and other NYRA chapter leaders will continue to advocate for freedom of movement, voting rights, and youth rights in general. Below is a copy of Bryce’s speech to the Fort Worth City Council.

My name is Bryce Hall. I am a resident of the 91st district and am the current president of the Texas Vote16 Campaign, a campaign working with the National Youth Rights Association to ensure and support youth rights. My colleagues and I believe that there should be no further extension on curfew for Fort Worth teenage residents because any kind of government action of discrimination requires a compelling state interest. This means in order to restrict a constitutional right, you need to prove that this curfew laws actually stops crime. Curfew laws in other states have been found to be unconstitutional; is the City Council willing to spend taxpayer money to defend this law in court?

Let’s think about this rationally. Curfew laws are intended to stop young people from committing crimes by making them stay inside. If a person intends to commit a crime by stealing a car, vandalizing a home, or deal drugs why would they have any respect for another law that made it illegal to be outside? Aren’t laws against auto-theft, property damage, and drug dealing enough? Is policing otherwise law-abiding behavior the best use of police resources? In fact, violent crimes by juveniles peak in the afternoon between 3pm and 4pm and that rate of crime drops nearly 30% by midnight.

Also, many impoverished families have parents that work two jobs. Teenagers in those families have adult responsibilities, such as caring for his/her younger siblings. However, it’s very difficult to do so, with limited time.

Lastly, having a curfew can make it very difficult as a working teenager. For example, 80% of youth have current jobs, many of those jobs are requiring teens to stay until around 11:30pm. And, I myself am a waiter and my workplace gets very busy around 10:30-11pm. My economic responsibility should not be limited by a curfew. Job owners might even realize that curfew is a problem, and decide not to hire myself or any other hard working juvenile. I also have to worry about being stopped by the police and am not allowed to on an errand on my way home.

In conclusion, we believe there should be no time limit for the hard-working youth of Fort Worth that live a double-standard of having adult responsibilities, but not rights.

Youth Rights Election Results

Posted by on November 9th, 2016

NYRA Presents: Youth Rights Election ResultsWhile the shocking upset for president is at the forefront of media coverage right now, there were several youth rights issues on the ballot yesterday that should not be forgotten. NYRA is very pleased to announce victories on a ballot measure in Berkeley, California to lower the voting age and a non-binding ballot question to lower the drinking age in Massachusetts. The much anticipated Prop F in San Francisco that would lower the voting age to 16 for local elections looks like it will lose narrowly. Finally, voters in the town of Oregon, Ohio approved a new curfew law.

Victory in San Francisco looked promising last night, with 53% of the vote in favor of lowering the voting age with 40% of precincts reporting. Unfortunately, the winning side switched as more ballots came in. Currently, with all precincts reporting it looks like lowering the voting age in San Francisco will lose 47% to 53%. Late-arriving vote-by-mail and provisional ballots still need to be counted, but it doesn’t look like that’ll be enough for victory.

Such a close result is still historic for supporters of a lower voting age. The campaign was unquestionably the best organized and most active one for a 16-year-old voting age that this country has ever seen. Vote16USA summed it up well:

This weekend, youth leaders and campaign staff in San Francisco mobilized 169 youth to support the campaign. Youth filled 191 shifts, called 16,000+ voters, sent personal text messages (a highly effective digital organizing tool) to 25,000+ voters, and hit the streets to engage with voters around the city.

NYRA members and others across the country helped phone bank for the Yes on F campaign, and it is truly inspiring to see how far the campaign had come.

But there is plenty of good news today. Measure Y1 in Berkeley California passed with a resounding 68.1% of the vote. The measure provides for 16 & 17 year olds to vote for the School Board Director. Berkeley will become the third city in the United States to allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections. After years of fighting for a lower voting age by NYRA-Berkeley, the campaign was picked up by a new generation this year and yesterday saw victory.

We have great news for the campaign to lower the drinking age as well. NYRA member Matthew Malone made the case that the drinking age of 21 was age discrimination against young people. Voters agreed. The non-binding measure in Amherst, Massachusetts was won with a vote of 8,483 in favor to 8,173 against. While non-binding, the measure instructs their state representatives to introduce legislation to lower the drinking age to 19. The president of the Massachusetts state senate, Stan Rosenberg, represents the district. NYRA is glad to see this vote succeed and show the support that voters have for lowering the drinking age and their opposition to ageism.

Matthew Malone told us that, “The voting results of this ballot question on the drinking age shows that there is public support for a lower drinking age and voters might like the idea of a split-age drinking age.”

He vows to continue fighting for a lower drinking age in Massachusetts. This won’t be the last measure that goes on the ballot.

Support Prop F! Help Lower the Voting Age in San Francisco!

Posted by on November 3rd, 2016

We have a historic opportunity to lower the voting age in San Francisco, and we NEED YOUR HELP!

No matter your age, no matter where you live, you can help make calls to San Francisco voters. And this is a critical moment. A recent poll put support for lowering the voting age at 48%. We are so, so close! YOU can help put us over the top and make history in San Francisco.

There is less than a week to go till the election, we are phone banking these last few days to get to victory. Make a few calls (or a lot of calls!) to tell voters that Prop F is lowering the voting age and make sure they vote YES.

Sign up to Phone Bank Here:

Instructions on Phone Banking

NYRA Launches Curfew Law List

Posted by on October 24th, 2016

Curfew laws

Does your town have a curfew law? Can you be arrested just for going outside?

Now you can find out! Building upon our long-standing curfew resource page, NYRA has created a list of over 400 towns, cities, counties, and states where it is illegal for young people to be outside of their homes at certain times of the day. This list does NOT include emergency curfews, areas where curfews apply to everyone, or automatic curfews resulting from a criminal conviction. It includes both nighttime and daytime curfews (which are used to target truancy), but this list should in no way be considered exhaustive.

As far as we know, this is the most comprehensive list of curfew laws anywhere online. You are encouraged to read the exact code in the link provided, as many of these laws have multiple exceptions, such as permission from a parent or guardian, or exercising your First Amendment Rights. You can also research the penalties, which can range from fines, to community service, to jail time for both the young person and their parents.

If you are looking for a curfew in your area, remember that curfews can be set at the state, county, and city level. Times are understood to begin on the night of the day listed (even when the time listed is after midnight) and continuing to the next morning.

Drinking Age on the Ballot in Massachusetts

Posted by on October 24th, 2016

Lowering the drinking age will be on the ballot in Amherst, MA!

I am a long time NYRA member and thanks to my petitioning efforts, next month in Amherst Massachusetts voters will be able to vote on whether or not the drinking age should be lowered to 19 for beer & wine.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was passed on July 17, 1984. It forced states to have a minimum age of at least age 21 to purchase and possess alcoholic beverages. States with a minimum drinking age lower than age 21 would lose ten percent of their annual federal highway funds. Therefore, although each state legally sets its own minimum drinking age, we have a de facto national drinking age of 21.

Over 30 years later, we still have a national drinking age of 21. Every few years there is a legislative effort at the state level to loosen the drinking age. A state legislator is able to introduce a bill into committee but the drinking age bill dies in that committee and never faces a vote before the full legislature. Direct democracy through the ballot question process is the best way for an issue with popular support but is politically incorrect to advance. In Massachusetts, the statewide ballot question process have been used twice concerning alcohol. In 1930 an initiative petition question supporting the repeal of prohibition was passed. In 1972 an initiative petition question supporting the lowering of the drinking age from age 21 to age 18 passed.

I chose to lead an effort to put a public policy (non-binding, advisory) question (PPQ) on the ballot that asks the state representative to support legislation that would lower the drinking age to age 19 for wines and malt beverages (i.e. beer) and to maintain the drinking age at age 21 for all other alcoholic beverages (i.e. hard liquor). This question will appear on the November 2016 ballot in the 3rd Hampshire (Amherst, Pelham and the northern half of Granby) state representative district of Massachusetts. I envision a law that would allow 19 and 20-year olds to buy beer and wine in a restaurant or liquor store and allow 21-year-olds to also purchase and consume hard liquor in bars and liquor stores.

I put this PPQ on the ballot in this district for several reasons:

First, no person or group yet has the financial resources to put a question on the drinking on the ballot statewide. However, Choose Responsibility has attracted foundation funding to fund a white paper on the minimum drinking age and to build a website.

Second, a local ballot question is a pilot project for a statewide ballot question. If the local ballot question is successful then it may attract the funds necessary to put it on the ballot statewide.

Third, the ballot requirements for a PPQ in Massachusetts are the lowest that I know of. Only 200 certified signatures are required to put a PPQ on the ballot in a state representative district in Massachusetts.

Fourth, the 3rd Hampshire state representative district is the home of three colleges: Amherst College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. There are over 30,000 higher education students in this representative district.

Fifth, Amherst is the hometown of the president of the Massachusetts state senate, Stanley Rosenberg.

Sixth, this PPQ will inform the public and elected officials of where actual voters stand concerning the 21-year old drinking age in the year 2016. Lastly, I believe that the highway funds obstacle can be overcome. John McCardell of Choose Responsibility has stated that states should be able to get a waiver from the federal government, for at least 5 years, so they could experiment with a lower drinking age without losing federal highway funds.

If you live in the area, or know anyone who does, please spread the word about lowering the drinking age! Be sure to vote!

Non-binding ballot question about lowering the drinking age

The First “Underage” US Presidential Candidate Does Well in Green Party Primaries

Posted by on August 6th, 2016

Elijah Manley speaks at Green Presidential Nominating Convention 2016
History was made yesterday when 17-year-old Elijah D. Manley gave a speech at the Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention on Saturday, August 6, 2016, in Houston, Texas. Elijah is the first “underaged” presidential nominee to make it to a state ballot – two states, in his case – of one of the two largest third parties in the USA. This took a huge amount of work on his part, along with considerable support from the many true progressives within the Green Party. This also happened despite strong ageist opposition and obstruction from the centrists who are part of the Greens (which, sadly, includes the Co-Chair of the national party). In a big leap forward for youth rights, Elijah got on the Green ballot in two states, Maryland and his home state of Florida, where he took 41% of the vote, with only Green powerhouse Dr. Jill Stein coming in ahead! Though all the delegates from Maryland gave their votes to Stein, three of the seven delegates from Florida gave their votes to Elijah, with Stein receiving the other four. Unexpectedly, the District of Columbia gave Elijah a quarter of its delegate votes, with another quarter going to William Kreml and the remaining one and a half going to Stein. This was an extraordinary primary turn-out from the first “underage” presidential candidate to run a serious campaign.

Moreover, from listening to recordings of that speech, you will see that Elijah made a strong endorsement of incorporating youth liberation into the national platform of the Greens, to which he received a loud round of applause. He received further applause upon mentioning the hard work he has done for the recent initiative to lower the voting age to 16 in many U.S. municipalities, including his home Florida county of Broward. Elijah has been working to establish a chapter of NYRA in Broward County, whose Facebook group you can find here.

Elijah’s platform on youth rights, both for his candidacy as a Green and for the youth liberation organization Continental Youth Assembly (which he co-founded), have included not only the end to age restrictions on voting, but also opposition to corporal punishment, a ban on infant circumcision, the democratization of the schooling system – including student membership on the local school board, the end to standardized testing and the demeaning grading system, and the availability of alternative opportunities for receiving one’s education – the end of enforced age segregation in public places, the end of curfew laws, opposition to the drinking laws, support for the right to bodily autonomy, allowing youths to enter the labor force and receive full remuneration for doing so, the end to gulag camps, freedom of speech and access to information, freedom of religious worship (including the right to dissent from religious worship altogether), and a legal declaration that children and younger adolescents are not the property of their parents.

As Elijah’s campaign manager, I understand that many youth liberationists do not support the Green economic policies, but that is not the issue here. I’m hoping this will simply spur our fellow youth liberationists to encourage their own political party of choice – e.g., the Libertarians (which has often been youth-friendly in the past), Democrats, Republicans, etc. – to likewise adopt youth lib into their national platform. We do not want youth liberation to ever become a partisan issue. Where all of us may differ with agreement on various economic issues (or even certain domestic and foreign policy issues), we can nevertheless unite on the basis of getting all political parties to support and incorporate youth liberation into its mission statement.

This accomplishment from Elijah should be applauded by all youth liberationists, regardless of which political affiliation you stand behind, as it has taken all of us one further step towards bringing youth liberation into mainstream politics in general. Even as we strive to get the Green Party to incorporate youth lib into its national platform, so can non-Green youth liberationists take this as encouragement to work equally hard to get your own political party to do the same!

Watch Elijah give his historic speech about the importance of youth rights (video starts at 1:25:13):

Texas Vote16: Open for Business!

Posted by on July 5th, 2016

NYRA’s newest chapter operates out of North Richland Hills, a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas. The chapter was started by a group of 16 year olds, most of them attending the same high school. Texas Vote16 was established on March 16, 2016. The President, Bryce Hall, had the idea for many years and found supporting friends. For Hall, it was important to start such a group: “I speak for myself and many youth out there as well; We’re not young enough for our voices to be ignored.” Their main goal is to lower the voting age in Texas to 16, then move forward into other states.

Their drive manifests itself in all their efforts. They currently have a petition in their community to allow 16 year olds to vote and are constantly getting signatures through door to door campaigning. Want to sign the petition? Click here!

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They are also currently contacting news media outlets, and are also seeking a representative to sponsor a proposed bill.

The next major event the Texas Chapter is getting ready to host is a Texas Vote16 Rally in North Richland Hills. They’ve been busy preparing getting signs and posters, as well as launching a large outreach campaign to get people on board. If you live in the area, be sure to attend the rally which will either be in late July or early August. Contact Bryce Hall at Texasvote16@gmail.com if you’re interested in getting involved.

NYRA Mourns Loss of Corporal Punishment Opponent

Posted by on April 25th, 2016

Jordan Riak speaking at the 2006 NYRA Annual MeetingJordan Riak, founder of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE) and long-time ally of NYRA in the campaign against corporal punishment died this week. Jordan Riak has devoted his life to stopping corporal punishment since 1974. He was a major force opposing the brutal practice both in the United States and in Australia, and almost single-handedly succeeded in getting corporal punishment banned in California schools. He spoke at the 2006 NYRA Annual Meeting and always kept NYRA supplied with his ubiquitous anti-spanking stickers.

PTAVE put out a booklet called “Plain Talk About Spanking” and distributed it widely. It has been recognized by many as one of the most persuasive and popular publications against hitting children. To honor Jordan Riak’s life and legacy, NYRA members are all urged to print out this booklet and distribute at your schools, workplaces and doctor’s offices.

Jordan Riak’s tireless campaign to stop corporal punishment is a model for us all and he will be truly missed by all of us concerned with the rights of young people.

Corporal punishment does for childhood what wife beating does for marriage.  There are laws against hitting your wife, hitting a guy on the street, even against hitting your dog.  But it's still perfectly legal in most of this country for teachers to hit our children. - Jordan Riak (1935-2016)

NYRA Advocates for #16toVote on Al Jazeera

Posted by on April 9th, 2016

On April 7, NYRA-Hudson County chapter president, Mahsiah Imes and NYRA President Alex Koroknay-Palicz appeared on Al Jazeera America with host Erika Pinzi to discuss lowering the voting age. Both were joined by other high school students on both sides of the issue. The segment appeared on the final 7 pm news hour for Al Jazeera America and provided a good opportunity to make the case for #16toVote.

Summer & Fall 2016 Fellowship Program

Posted by on February 4th, 2016

National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) Summer & Fall 2016 Fellowship Program
3 openings
Application deadline: February 29th, 2016
Download Fellowship Information in Word

Founded in 1998, NYRA is a national non-profit dedicated to fighting for the civil rights and liberties of young people. Based in the Washington, DC area, the organization challenges age discrimination against young people, and seeks to change attitudes and policies toward youth. NYRA aims to achieve its goals through educating people about youth rights, empowering young people to work on their own behalf in defense of their rights, and taking positive steps to lessen the burden of ageism. NYRA’s website is www.youthrights.org.

The Fellowship program is designed to provide a structured opportunity for young people interested in advancing youth rights to gain experience in advocacy, to work together, and to learn from each other and the NYRA mentors. NYRA will tailor which responsibilities are part of each Fellow’s portfolio based on the Fellow’s interest, experience and preferences. Each Fellow’s portfolio of responsibilities will include a mutually agreed upon sub-set of the following:

Research and Writing
– Update statistics and arguments within NYRA’s policy advocacy resources such as our Drinking Age FAQ, Voting Age Talking Points and Curfew FAQ.
– Research and summarize laws related to the rights of youth (for example see here).
– Expand and update NYRA’s library of pro-youth-rights studies, research papers, and information.
– Write blog posts for NYRA’s blog and Facebook page.
– Expand and update NYRA’s repository of news articles regarding youth rights.
– Write op-eds, letters to the editor, and press releases for developing issues.

– Develop and execute a strategy to further expand NYRA’s local chapter network, and to provide ongoing help for local chapters to support their campaigns and growth.
Conduct outreach and recruit new members both online and offline.
– Liaise with the media: including building and maintaining media lists of reporters; getting NYRA’s op-eds, letters to the editor, and press releases into the media;  contacting reporters who cover youth rights stories and encouraging them to interview NYRA; and helping to develop and/or serving as a media spokesperson for NYRA.
– Build and maintain NYRA’s online community of youth rights advocates by stimulating conversations, doing online outreach to build awareness and ensure a friendly, welcoming environment.
– Start a local NYRA chapter.
– Increase the reach of NYRA’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as expand NYRA’s reach into other social media platforms.

Qualifications: In keeping with NYRA’s philosophy, the Fellowship is open to all, irrespective of age. The Fellowship could be appropriate for current students and graduates of Middle School, High School, College, and/or Graduate Degree Programs. The following qualifications are required: Fellows must (i) be able to produce and write a well-crafted argument, (ii) must be able to do internet-based research to assemble, summarize, and synthesize arguments, statistics, and policies related to youth rights, (iii) understand and support NYRA’s philosophy and mission, and (iv) must be authorized to work in the U.S.. In addition, candidates should possess some of the following preferred qualifications: (v) public speaking skills; (vi) ability to professionally and effectively communicate by email and phone; (vii) skill at internet-based promotion of ideas and issues; (viii) experience with multimedia content creation; (ix) some experience as a youth leader or organizer; (x) previous experience advocating on behalf of youth rights in some way.

Duration and Hours: This Fellowship is designed as a six-month Fellowship, starting around June 2016, and ending in December 2016. During the summer months, Fellows are expected to work 20-40 hours per week for 8-12 weeks. During the fall, Fellows are expected to work 8-16 hours per week.

Location and supplies: The majority of Fellows’ work will be performed remotely, from a location of their choosing, as NYRA does not maintain a permanent office space. Supervision and collaboration will primarily be done over phone/skype/email. There are two exceptions to this.  A 3-day long team retreat / Fellow orientation will take place at the beginning of the summer, in the Washington, DC area.  And during the summer, workshops will take place every other Saturday at an office near Union Station metro station.   In-person attendance is required for the team retreat, and for the workshops, in-person attendance is preferred, but attendance by skype-video is also possible.  Fellows’ work will require use of a computer, a phone, and the internet, and Fellows must secure these on their own.

Supervision: Fellows will be mentored by and work under the supervision of NYRA’s President, Alex Koroknay-Palicz. Fellows are also expected to learn from each other. Supervision will occur via weekly one-on-one check-ins, as-needed, and through workshops that focus on building a particular skill and/or provide the opportunity for peer-to-peer learning and feedback.

Remuneration: NYRA is an all-volunteer organization, and the Fellowship is unpaid. However, Fellows will be provided with a $750 stipend intended to defray any expenses the Fellow incurs as a part of participation in this Fellowship.  

Application Instructions: The application deadline is February 29th, 2016. Please submit your application to apply@youthrights.org. Please place in the subject line “NYRAFellowship_2016” as well as your name. A complete application will contain a resume, a cover letter, a writing sample, and an “interest level” ranking of the various potential responsibilities. Please find more detail below.

Cover letter: The cover letter is the place where you communicate any additional information regarding your qualifications that is not adequately conveyed in the resume. Additionally, please be sure to include the following information: (i) Why are you interested in this Fellowship? How does it fit with your short- and long-term goals, and what are you hoping to gain from it?; (ii) What skills and experience do you bring to the table with respect to specific potential responsibilities?; (iii) What is your availability – including preferred start/end dates for the summer and fall periods, and number of hours you propose to work during each; (iv) Whether you would be located in DC, or working remotely, during each of summer and fall; (v) Which of NYRA’s ongoing campaigns are you most interested in? NYRA’s current campaigns are on lowering the voting age, lowering the drinking age, curfew? (vi) What are your thoughts on NYRA’s broader mission against ageism?

Writing Sample: The writing sample should highlight your ability to make a well-crafted argument. It can be something that you have written for class, or any other purpose. But it must be solely written by you (it cannot be co-authored). The ideal writing sample would be one that makes an argument for or against a particular policy / law that is intended to persuade the audience.

Interest Level Ranking: Our plan is to tailor each Fellow’s responsibilities to his or her preferences, to the extent possible. And to bring on a mix of Fellows that makes sense. To help us do this, please rank each potential responsibility in order of your preference. That is, please place a “1” next to the responsibility that you are most interested in, a “2” next to the one you are second most interested in, and so on, until you have given a rank to each of the potential responsibilities. Please do this with the responsibilities listed above under Research & Writing and Outreach. Or use this file and see the table at the end.

NYRA’s mission centers on challenging age discrimination against young people, both in law and in attitudes and supporting the basic freedoms afforded to young Americans in the Bill of Rights.