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Schooling Adults on Youth Participation in the LGBT Safe Schools Movement: Why It Is Important to Engage Youth in Efforts to Make

Schools Safe

Theory of Adultism
Adultism Explained
Montana Safe Schools Coalition

Adultism

The oppression of and discrimination against people who are young

Theory of Adultism
Adultism Defined
Adultism is a predisposition towards adults, defined as "behaviors and attitudes based on the assumptions that adults are better than young people, and entitled to act upon young people without agreement. Internalized adultism causes youth to "question their own legitimacy, doubt their ability to make a difference" and perpetuate a "culture of silence" among young people. Cultural adultism is the restriction or exploitation of people because of their young age, as opposed to their ability, comprehension, or capacity. Institutional adultism may be apparent in any instance of systemic bias, where formalized limitations or demands are placed on people simply because of their young age. School is a key adultist institution.

Theory of Adultism
Adultism Explained

Adultism is a denial of the full humanity of young people Adultism places us in the position of being a hope for the future, but not a central part of the present When we question adultist practice, we are not taken seriously

Why should we work on Adultism?


Adultism is the universal oppression We all experience adultism If we reach an age older than any other person we can perpetuate adultism Adultism, like other forms of oppression, is held in place by power, control and economics

What adultism may look like for young people:


 Experiencing adultism shows us that it is possible to oppress other people. It is the thing that informs our ability
to practice racism, sexism, heterosexism, and all other forms of mistreatment.

 Young people may feel inferior or act less than fully intelligent.  It may get in the way of young people taking charge; both in leadership contexts and in their personal lives.

What adultism may look like for adults:


 Adults may not trust the competency of young people.  Adults may not expect or require reciprocal relationships with young people.

Theory of Adultism
Adultism and Financial Resources

A key part of adultism is the lack of control of financial resource. Young people are mostly not in control of their financial situation or resources. However, we are targeted as a commercial class anyway. This may lead young people to have to ask, beg, or exchange for money. This can lead to humiliation, feelings of worthlessness, or feelings or hopelessness (feeling like we have to give up what we want/need because we can t/won t ask, beg or exchange). It also may lead to the feeling that our value is based on the one task or chore we have to exchange for access to financial resource.

Timeline of Adultism
Birth: People aren t paying full attention adults don t meet gaze, babies stop looking Birth experiences affect us many babies are medicated from the very first moments Babies are shushed

Timeline of Adultism
Early Childhood:  Get interrupted a lot, ignored, told to stop asking so many questions  Retreat into imagination and stop asking questions  Start mistrusting thinking  Learn that adults don t want to know your thinking  Feelings are invalidated There s nothing to be scared of or You re not really sad  Life is completely controlled (adults decide what you wear, eat, where you get to go)  Small children often make fun of other children who are different-starting to perpetuate adultism and other oppressions.

Timeline of Adultism
Pre-teen:  Have increased knowledge (school), need to process information plus have strong desire to connect  Receive conflicting messages: your thinking is not important vs. increased demand to think critically (school)  Pre-teens often feel and express urgency around being heard and having their thinking validated only to have those demands met with being told that they are too young or don t know enough  Pre-teens act out adultism through bullying, namecalling, etc.

Timeline of Adultism
Early Adolescents: Increased autonomy often w/o necessary skills ( stupid for not knowing even though earlier message was to stop asking) Adults often act afraid of teenagers and back away from them thinking is important, but not yours No one wants to listen, and both stop responding Teens give up on being heard and feel frustrated (often described as teen angst)

Timeline of Adultism
18: You are an adult without full legal rights Made independent without full information People think you should automatically know things that were withheld up to this point  On your own now.

Timeline of Adultism
20 s  Really on your own  Trained to not trust your thinking, but now in the situation to use and trust your own thinking.  Easy to turn adultism around at younger people to help gain sense of authority and importance  Urgent about being successful in the world will do whatever necessary to get stable footing-leave people behind.

Timeline of Adultism
20 s con t:  Sometimes we are very forceful (urgency)  sometimes we can t voice our needs (internalized oppression) Late 20 s:  Repeat cycle. The system (capitalism) requires that everyone compete with each other to get ahead, leaving many people behind and requiring us to replicate the system in younger people.

Cycle of Oppression
How the cycle plays out in adultism

Cycle of Systematic Oppression


Systematic Mistreatment: Segregation, Isolation, Targeting, Devaluing

Power
Misinformation: Records, Stereotypes, No Information

Institutionalization: Societal justification, normalization and perpetuation of mistreatment

Control and Economics


Internalized Oppression & Internalized Dominance: Taking in and acting upon the stated or implied messages about our own groups

No one is more affected by school policy change, staff trainings, and any other work to make schools safer than the youth who attend them.

Why Should We Care?


Substantive youth engagement is crucial to developing safer schools
Youth understand school environments Decisions directly affect the lives of youth Provide strong, accurate input about what does and doesn t work

Youth as Experts
Youth know exactly what problems need to be tackled in their schools and districts
 Which classes are targeted, whether bullying is physical or verbal

Youth can usually determine the more effective types of bullying prevention
 How well assemblies or staff trainings work  Alternatives to punitive punishments

We Want to be Involved
Sometimes, youth may seem indifferent to what s going on around us, but that s usually a misconception. We don t just want to file papers or complete other remedial tasks, either. We want to plan, prepare, and execute!

We really do want to offer all of our talents and resources, otherwise we wouldnt be giving this webinar, now would we?

So You want to add youth


The Bring Them to the Table model is probably the most utilized method of youth inclusion

heres what could happen if youth come to the table


because of our societys adultism :
Youth and adults dont trust each other, creating tension

Adults dont believe youth can be leaders

Youth are afraid to speak up during discussions

Youth input is ignored

Adults see that youth arent participating, which proves their point, that youth arent helpful

Youth arent truly involved, becoming tokens at the table

Then How Should Youth be Incorporated?

Processes for Youth Leadership


Dual Processes
Alliance Youth Committee Model

Dual Processes allow youth and adults to work separately but parallel towards the same or similar goals

Processes for Youth Leadership


Dual Processes
Alliance Youth Committee Model

With a dual process, each separate group chooses the actions and direction their group will take towards the overarching goal There are go betweens for each group, ensuring that each group knows what the other is doing

Processes for Youth Leadership


Dual Processes
Alliance Youth Committee Model

Example: After Illinois passed the Prevent School Violence Act, a comprehensive anti-bullying law, both the Youth Policy Committee and the Adult Policy Committee began to work on implementation. o The Youth Policy Committee decided to focus on organizing youth across the state to change their own district anti-bullying policies, and to implement those policies in a youth led process. To do this they wrote a toolkit for policy change for youth o The Adult Policy Committee oversaw a state taskforce that provided recommendations to schools about a model policy, programs, and data collection, and youth also sat on the taskforce

Processes for Youth Leadership


Dual Processes
Alliance Youth Committee Model Pros: Youth are able to make decisions, and are not overrun by the adults There is space for youth to truly grow as leaders The process ensures that perspective and skills are shared between groups, ie, the adults cannot discount the youth since they are taking action, and the youth can utilize adult s knowledge and power Youth stay in control of their own direction Youth led is more fun, less awkward Youth are more likely to speak their minds Cons: Both groups can suffer from a lack of communication Youth don t get as many chances to speak up to adults Both groups require a dedicated staff or volunteer to support the process, hold people accountable, and ensure communication One group may move more quickly than the other

Processes for Youth Leadership


Dual Processes
Alliance Youth Committee Model
Worked on changing non-discrimination policy for Chicago Public Schools. Wrote a toolkit for youth changing their own anti-bullying policy and provides training to youth on policy change Communicates the mission, programs and events of the Alliance to youth

Education and Training Committee

Policy Committee

Fundraising Committee

Communications Committee

Provides education and training to GSAs and GSA Advisors-who then act as advocates for schoolwide PD Provides training at the Summer Institute, a 3-day PD session for school personnel organized by the youth committee

Fundraises through summits and other GSA events Sells buttons and puts together silent auction items for the annual event organized by the adult fundraising committee

Education and Training Committee

Policy Committee

Fundraising Committee

Communications Committee

Thank You!