In May of 2017 Equality Organizers Dean Welliver and Moises Duran accompanied five teen leaders from Kern County to Sacramento for the Free Our Dreams Statewide Day of Action coordinated by Movement Strategy Center. The Free Our Dreams convening took place May 6-8 in Sacramento provided workshops on movement building and legislative advocacy. Youth learned how to tell their stories so they could meet with elected officials to advocate for legislation that help create welcoming and safe communities for marginalized youth.
Teen Leader Emily Nunez worked on the youth planning committee for the convening and helped draft the model “Safe and Welcoming Schools for All” Platform that will be launched at the Fall 2017 Free Our Dreams youth organizing convening. The “Safe and Welcoming Schools for all” platform is a model policy that provides specific policy recommendations school districts can implement to ensure a safe and welcoming school climate for LGBT students, students of color, immigrant students, and Muslim students.
Paola Hinojosa was one of the teen leaders selected from organizations across the state to meet with California Superintendent of Education Tom Torlakson. Paola shared her story of growing up in a family of mixed immigration status and advocated for sanctuary schools to help students who are undocumented or have undocumented family members feel safe at school without fear of immigration enforcement on campus.
“As a student whose parents are undocumented, going to the state capital and speaking about these issues is something I take seriously. It was definitely a unique experience as the people we met with listened intently and really wanted to hear what we had to say which is nice because adults tend to not listen to what youth have to say.” – Paola Hinojosa
Additionally, all five teen leaders from Kern met with representatives from the offices of Senator Jean Fuller (R), Assemblyman Vince Fong (R), Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R), and Senator Henry Stern (D) to advocate for a legislation to end the use of willful defiance as a grounds for suspension and expulsion, legislation for free bus passes for students, legislation to update eligibility requirements for in-state tuition for undocumented students, and the creation of a third gender marker on government identification documents.
DHF’s Teens 4 Equality joined over 200 Free Our Dreams youth leaders in asking legislators and decision makers to take bold action that make our neighborhoods and schools safe and inclusive environments where youth are free to grow and thrive. They are asking our legislators and decision makers to step up and support legislation that:
– Creates sanctuary for all and fully inclusive schools and communities
– Reinvests resources from punishment and incarceration to prevention
– Transformative justice practices; and expansion of economic, health and educational opportunity for all youth
Support these youth leaders by asking that our representatives stand for all of us by supporting and building a “CaliforALL.”
Top Policy Priorities:
- SB 607 (Skinner): Ending suspensions for willful defiance
- SB 395 (Lara, Mitchell): Miranda rights for law enforcement interrogations for youth
- AB 90 (Weber): Moratorium on the use of CalGang Database
- SB 562 (Lara): Californians for a Healthy California Act
- SB 68 (Lara): Extending in-state tuition for undocumented students at CSU and community colleges
- CA Department of Education advisory for “Safe Schools For All”
#Cali4ALL, #FreeOurDreams #Safe4Me2