More and more, young people around the world are organizing around a variety of issues across racial,
class, and other divides. Youth bring vital strengths to community organizing, including life experiences in
their families and communities, creative ideas, technological savvy, passion, and integrity. They are
organizing around LGBTQ issues, public education, immigration, homelessness, and environmental justice.
Arguing that the civic engagement of youth can move beyond recycling clubs or other service-oriented
projects, youth are increasingly being viewed as relevant constituents who are capable of confronting
various power structures and winning important gains. Organizing youth represents a tremendous hope for
social change for the future. By raising consciousness, fostering organizing skills, and supporting youth
activist agendas, we are planting the seeds of sustainable social change work for the future.
Discussion Questions for Youth Organizing Case Study
1) In what ways are youth marginalized or vulnerable community members? In what ways do they have
power and privilege?
2) Discuss how intersectionality affects youth organizers. Consider the realities of race and ethnicity,
gender, class, and sexual orientation.
3) What techniques can be used to strengthen the collective efficacy of a group of youth who share some
similarities and common goals but have significant diversities among them (e.g., related to class,
immigration status, gender identity, or race or ethnicity)?
4) In considering youth–adult partnerships, how can practitioners (adults) attend to their own privilege and
hold empowering spaces for youth?
5) Sometimes community organizing is risky business as youth speak truth to power and take direct action.
What are the ethical responsibilities that practitioners have to youth in terms of:
ensuring their basic needs are met (emotional, physical, etc.);
b. avoiding unintended consequences that speaking out or engaging in direct action may have for them;
c. attending to the realities of youth who are particularly vulnerable (e.g., immigrant youth).
6) How do we attend to these issues while still embracing the value of self-determination (i.e., that they
have rights to make choices for their lives)?