Reposted from Aaliyah Would Be Proud with permission from the author.

The eleventies (2010-2019) ended on December 31, and the twelveties (2020-2029) began. We begin a new year, as well as a new decade. In 2020, the ages of the eight living generations are:

  • Interbellum Generation (1901-1910): age 109+
  • Greatest Generation (1911-1924): age 95-109
  • Silent Generation (1925-1942): age 77-95
  • Baby Boomers (1943-1957): age 62-77
  • Generation Jones (1958-1963): age 56-62
  • Generation X (1964-1978): age 41-56
  • Millennial Generation (1979-2004): age 15-41
  • Fifth World Generation (2005-today): age 15 and under

Since the old decade has ended, let’s look back at the youth rights stories of the eleventies.

On April 14, 2010, the National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) held the first National Youth Rights Day. NYRA president Jeff Nadel attacked the perception of youth “as chattel, as individuals incapable of thinking for themselves, defending themselves, or making decisions for themselves”.

The first U.S. cities lowered their local voting ages to 16. It started with Takoma Park, MD, in 2013. Then came Hyattsville, MD in 2015 and Greenbelt, MD in 2018.  Voting ages were also lowered to 16 in some other countries: Argentina in 2013, Scotland in 2014, Malta in 2018, and Wales in 2019 (to go in effect on May 6, 2020). Greece lowered its voting age to 17. Japan also went from 20 to 18 – better late than never.

Drinking ages were raised across Europe. In 2010, the Spanish autonomous community of Galicia raised its minimum purchase age from 16 to 18. In 2011, Denmark raised the age for off-premise sale of alcohol with an ABV above 16.5% from 16 to 18, but the age to purchase alcohol with an ABV below 16.5% remains at 16. Then in 2012, Moldova raised its purchase age from 16 to 18. Also in 2012, Italy raised its pirchase age from 16 to 18. In 2013, Portugal (which had previously set the purchase age at 16 for all alcoholic beverages) restricted distilled spirits to people over 18, and continued to restrict beer, wine, cider, and the like to people over 16. On the first day of 2014, Netherlands changed its drinking age policy from 16 for beverages with an ABV below 15% and 18 to other beverages to 18 for everything. In 2015, Asturias, the last community in Spain with a drinking age of 16, increased its drinking age to 18 with the rest of Spain (except for the Balearic Islands, which have no age limits on purchase). Then in 2015, Portugal raised the purchase age for all types of alcohol to 18. In 2018, Lithuania raised its drinking age, already 18, to 20. (They even brought back the draft!) Finally in 2019, the three Austrian states of Burgenland, Lower Austria, and Vienna, which had previously had across-the-board drinking ages of 16 raised their drinking ages for spirits to 18 to align with the rest of Austria. Now it’s 18 for spirits, 16 for beer, wine, and cider everywhere in Austria.

In 2019, Canada, which had previously had a vaginal age of consent of 16 and an anal age of consent of 18, lowered its age for anal sex to 16 to be non-homophobically consistent with its age for vaginal sex.

In the second half of the decade, U.S. states raised the age to consume, or at least purchase tobacco from 18 to 21. It started with Hawaii. In 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to raise California’s age, with servicepeople aged 18-29 still being allowed to purchase tobacco. Then, in 2019, the federal government set a federal purchase age for tobacco at 2019. This was not without controversy, as 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old boys (perhaps even girls now) can still be drafted without being able to purchase either tobacco or alcohol, and the speculation that Donald Trump could start a war with Iran and draft Americans to fight it was so widespread that it crashed the Selective Service website. Teen-age vaping and juuling skyrocketed.

In 2010, New Zealand, home of the band The Naked and Famous who do the song “Spank”, banned the smacking of one’s children. Scotland outlawed corporal punishment, as did the U.S. state of Delaware.

The most tragic youth rights news story of the decade was the case In re Cassandra C. Cassandra Callender, a 17-year-old girl from Connecticut who was ordered to have chemotherapy to cure her Hodgkin lymphoma, refused, and her mother filed a court case in her behalf. In an act of blaming the rebel, the judge, Commissioner Joette Katz, found that Cassandra C. was not “mature” because she had run away to avoid forced medical treatment. It’s her body, not the doctor’s! Cassandra C. was even forcibly taken away from her mother and not allowed to see her during her treatment. Threats were made to Commissioner Katz by opponents of medical paternalism for her terrible ruling, which gives me hope for the future of youth rights in America. At age 18, Cassandra C. found an alternative treatment widely denounced as quackery. In 2019, at the age of 21, she came up missing.

In 2014, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani lass, became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in history. She had fought for girls to be educated in the misogynistic, heavily Islamic nation of Pakistan, and for women’s rights to be improved in general. She barely escaped murder by the Taliban! When she won a Nobel Peace Prize at 17, she became the first teen-ager to receive a Nobel. She attended Edgbaston High School in England from 2013 to 2017, and is now studying at Oxford, hoping for a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

Another teen-ager who set a “youngest ever” record was Greta Thunberg, Time’s youngest Person of the Year. While Malala fought so teen girls could go to school, Thunberg, a teen girl with Asperger’s and selective mutism, started skipping her government school to draw attention to the climate crisis that will leave her without a future to study for. The Global Climate Strike inspored students across the globe to walk out of school and working people to walk out of their jobs for one whole week, to draw attention to the existential threats to our planet that Donald Trump and other world leaders refuse to face. She turned 17 earlier thos year, and at 16 became the first teen-age Person of the Year.

The tragic school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL had a silver lining: when it inspired teen activism in favor of gun control, it not only launched the careers of teens like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, but changed many minds about 16-year-olds voting. Millennials had been pushing for a lower voting age for over two decades, but now lowering the voting age became a mainstream issue among pre-Millennials: Xers, Jonesers, Boomers, Silents, and a smattering of nonagenarian and centenarian Greatests and Interbellumers. Andrew Yang became the first Democratic presidential candidate to make suffrage for 16-year-olds and official part of his platform. The Washington, D.C. city council heard a motion to lower its city/territory voting age from 18 to 16, but voted to table it at the last minute. California is on its way to approve a proposition to lower its voting age to 17. Ayanna Pressley, a Gen-X progressive Democratic congresswoman, introduced a bill in Congress to lower the voting age, but it died in the House as half of Democratic congresspeople and all but one Republican congressperson voted no. Oregon lawmakers also introduced a bill to grant votes to 16-year-olds. (You may read this link, although I don’t agree with their statement that today’s 16-year-olds are not Millennials.)

Finally, during the last decade I developed the moral philosophy of bixochromatism and wrote the essay “On Choice, Punishment, and the Color of Lipstick”. I put it up at my Lehola Galaxy page, and also shared it to my blog at the end of the decade. Youth rights activists now have a moral framework to work within that challenges the paternalist foregone assumptions of most drinking age, curfew, and medical paternalism supporters.

Who knows what the twelveties will bring in youth rights? My wishes are an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that lowers the voting age to 16, a nationalization of the age of majority and age of emancipation at 16, a complete overhaul of public education, medical consent granted to everyone regardless of age, and harsh criminal punishments for parental tyranny. What are your hopes and dreams for our new decade?

One Comment

  1. As far as lowering the age of adult majority, it’s not going to happen, not any time soon, if at all. As for harsh criminal punishments for parental tyranny, what do you define as tyranny in this case? There should be no emancipation on demand. That should only be done as a last resort. It is not to your advantage to be naive/wet behind the ears. Regardless of what eventually happens to the voting age, I absolutely do not support lowering the age of overall adult majority. It should stay at 18. 18 is a reasonably fair age to have as the age of adult majority.

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