NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229
Volume 9, Issue 2
February 17, 2009
Editors: Justin Graham and Lexi Johnson

Table of Contents

– NYRA to Weigh In on Supreme Court Cases
– Middle School NYRA Chapter Works to Lower Voting Age
– Anti-Age Discrimination Campaign in High Gear
– Florida Students Can Speak Out Against Discrimination
– Student Rights Union Looks Ahead to Next Year
– NYRA Still Seeking Interns
– Recent NYRA Blog Entries
– News from the Web
– Conclusion

NYRA to Weigh In on Supreme Court Cases

NYRA is looking into filing an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case, Redding v. Stafford, in which a 13-year-old female middle school student was strip searched for ibuprofen. In 2003, middle school student Savana Redding was strip searched for ibuprofen on the basis of a tip from another student. Her case is now before the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in April.
In 1985, the Supreme Court, in New Jersey v. T. L. O., ruled that a school may make a search of a student based on “reasonable suspicion,” a more lax standard that the “probable cause” standard outlined in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that the student has violated a law or school rule. The search itself must also be reasonable under the circumstances. NYRA intends to argue not only that this strip search for over-the-counter medication violated the “reasonable suspicion” standard, but that New Jersey v. T. L. O. was incorrectly argued in the first place, that a lax “reasonable suspicion” standard leaves the door open for these kinds of abuses, and that schools should be held to the stricter “probable cause” standard when conducting searches.
NYRA also intends to help organize a rally in front of the Supreme Court building similar to the one held in 2007 during the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” free speech case, this one demanding that youth be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in schools.
In addition, NYRA is getting involved in another Supreme Court case, Forest Grove School District v. T. A., this one involving a youth with “special needs” being sent to a “private school,” and who should pay for it. The “private school” in this case is actually an abusive behavior modification facility, and the student’s “special needs” are Attention Deficit Disorder and marijuana use. Together with partners, the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, NYRA hopes to write an amicus brief highlighting the abuses that occur at the private program at the center of this case.

Middle School NYRA Chapter Works to Lower Voting Age

One of NYRA’s newest chapters, NYRA-Nanuet: Teen Suffrage Organization, is based out of a middle school in New York, and is NYRA’s only currently active middle school-based chapter. The chapter’s primary goal, according to chapter president Jackie Ferro, is to lower the voting age to 16. NYRA-Nanuet already has about 25 members, and has garnered some positive press attention in local news outlets, including an interview on the Regional News Network, a cable news channel broadcast throughout nothern New Jersey, western Connecticut and southwestern New York.
Ferro plans to gain the support of local government leaders in order to advance the cause of youth suffrage. The chapter vice president, Jessica Kroner, has contacted the area’s state assembly representative about lowering the voting age, and chapter representatives have been in contact with other local and state government officials as well. “The greatest thing about our nation,” Ferro says, “is that our founding fathers knew it was imperfect but they made ways for us to fix and improve it.” Ferro believes that youth are mature enough to have a say on issues that directly affect them. “We are working for the basic rights that we should already have.”
Read some of NYRA-Nanuet’s press coverage here:
View NYRA-Nanuet: TSO’s website here:

Anti-Age Discrimination Campaign in High Gear

NYRA is renewing its efforts to combat age discrimination against youth in business. We had many successes this past fall in getting businesses to change discriminatory policies, so we’re revving up this campaign again and are hoping to achieve an even higher level of success in the coming months. NYRA is aggressively going after businesses who discriminate against youth, already filing a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Human Rights about one business’ anti-youth policy, and working with other civil liberties organizations in other cases, such as a Chuck E. Cheese’s in Michigan that prohibits people under 18 from being present without a parent. NYRA is also campaigning to get certain hotels in Maryland to change their policies regarding the minimum age to rent a room. Many hotels in the state require renters to be at least 21, in violation of Maryland’s age discrimination law.
NYRA members across the country can help fight age discrimination in business. If there are any businesses in your area that discriminate against youth, ask them to change their policy. Explain why it’s wrong. Research the laws of your state (the Youth Rights Law Library at http://www.youthrights.net is a good place to start) to see if the policy is against the law. Some states, such as Maryland and Michigan, have laws against age discrimination that apply to youth. You can make a difference for youth in your community by insisting that businesses respect their young customers.

Florida Students Can Speak Out Against Discrimination

The Florida Commission on Human Relations is holding a contest inviting high school students in Florida to submit 25-second public service announcements about discrimination. The winning PSAs will be used to raise awareness of discrimination in Florida, and the winners will receive media attention. The public service announcements can be about age discrimination, so this is an excellent opportunity for NYRA members in Florida to make their voices heard in opposition to anti-youth discrimination.
Read all about the contest here:

Student Rights Union Looks Ahead to Next Year

The Zionsville Student Rights Union in central Indiana is already looking ahead to next year, working with their school’s administration on changes to the Student Handbook for the 2009-10 school year. The ZSRU has presented a comprehensive list of proposals to the school administration. Among their proposals are:
– Eliminating a requirement for students to answer questions from a staff member about possible violations of state or federal law, thus requiring them to incriminate themselves in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
– Changing the dress code to allow students their right to free expression of religion and their right to make political statements regarding drugs or alcohol.
– Allowing students to notify their parents and consult with legal counsel before being required to submit to a drug or alcohol test.
– Reducing the severity of discipline for tobacco use by student-athletes, and lifting restrictions on tobacco use by student-athletes who are 18 years old or older.
These proposals reflect the ZSRU’s commitment to ensure that all students are allowed to exercise their constitutional rights.

NYRA Still Seeking Interns

NYRA is still looking for interns for the spring and summer semesters to help around the national office in Washington, DC! We already have one intern for this spring semester, Conor Nugent, but our national staff could always use more help. And of course we’re looking for interns for the summer as well. Being an intern at NYRA is an excellent way to help the cause of youth rights while getting some great experience for your resume. If you’re interested in interning for NYRA in either the spring or summer, please email your resume to nyra (at) youthrights (dot) org.

Recent NYRA Blog Entries

Youth Criminalized, Controlled & Commoditized Says Giroux
Big Business:Ageist
Social networking: facts vs. emotions
Gulag School Case at US Supreme Court

News from the Web

Ariz. boy, 9, offered plea deal in dad’s killing
Pa. judges accused of jailing kids for cash
State may compensate juveniles sentenced by judges in Luzerne
Chicago Public School Students Report Abuse by Teachers
Lawsuit: Girl Forced To Take Pregnancy Test
When Parents Call God Instead of the Doctor
AP: Some states disregard juvenile justice law
Teenage driving bill sent to House
Psychiatry’s ‘Shock Doctrine’: Are We Really OK With Electroshocking Toddlers?
Teens who ‘sext’ racy photos charged with porn
Editorial: Judges Sentenced
Student withdrawn from UK school over CCTV in toilets
Ruling: Judge Can Address Murder Charge In Trial Of Boy, 9
Taking fear out of discipline
Good News: Bad Economy Killing Abusive Teen Programs
Teens face DoCoMo ‘encounter’ site ban
Court: No right to shout “douchebag” in a crowded blog
U.S. Supreme Court (Finally) Kills Online Age Verification Law
School kids need less work, more play
Slaughterhouse faces nearly 1,000 child labor charges
Strict rules of road eyed for teen drivers
Cop on runaway Silicon Valley teen couple: ‘They’ve gone dark on us’
390,000 to access child database
Rules to curb online bullying raise concerns
Kentucky Bill Seeks Protections for High School Reporters
Teacher fired after taping student’s mouth shut
Texas to reconsider $6M steriod testing in schools
Court to hear case of teen strip-searched for ibuprofen
Online Threats to Kids Overblown
Lawmaker wants to tighten Utah alcohol rules
Hidden Camera Found In Teen’s Bedroom; Man Arrested


This past month has brought unique opportunities for NYRA, including the opportunity to be involved with two important Supreme Court cases. Active NYRA chapters across the country are making progress towards their goals. Throughout the past month NYRA’s action teams have been hard at work, writing letters, contributing to the Youth Rights Network, making blog entries and more. Everyone can find time to help out one (or two or three) of NYRA’s action teams, or get more involved in their local chapter, or help wage our anti-age discrimination campaign, to help NYRA advance youth rights.