The Rights of Young People

Youth - Your Rights and Responsibilities
You don’t have to do what everyone else in school is doing just because it may be popular, or cool, or "normal." You’re not a sheep; you’re not a mindless part of a flock. You are an individual, with individual rights and responsibilities.

The "responsibilities" part means that you can’t do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want to whomever you want. But, that doesn’t mean you’re just a defenseless sheep, either.

You have freedoms. You DO have rights. And the Bill of Rights exists to make sure that your rights to individual freedoms are safe.

How does the Bill of Rights protect you? How can you find out just what freedoms are guaranteed by a document written over 200 years ago? That’s where we come in -- we’re the ACLU.

The ACLU -- the American Civil Liberties Union -- has been active in this country for over 90 years, and for over 50 years here in Oregon. Our mission is simple: to protect and promote the Bill of Rights. Why should you care about this? Because the Bill of Rights is what protects you and gives you rights -- rights in school, on the streets and as a member of this society.
As a minor, you don’t yet enjoy the full protection of the Bill of Rights. You have to listen to your parents, obey the law, go to school. But you’re still protected by the Bill of Rights; and the older you get, the more it protects you.

The Bill of Rights protects you from the government. As you have probably learned, the Constitution defines what the government can do, like collect taxes and create laws. However, the Bill of Rights spells out what the government can’t do. And when you’re in a public school, your teachers, the principal and the school board are the government.

(By the way, you’re covered by two sets of rights -- the Oregon Bill of Rights and the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, but more about that later.)

Use this information: find out just what your rights are; check out situations where students took a stand and stood up for their rights; and, learn about other places you can go to find out more about your rights.

One more thing: your rights are like your mind.
If you don’t exercise them, they won’t do a thing for you.