HB 4099 would create a state-level Racial Equity and Justice Youth Collaborative that would  meaningfully involve youth — particularly youth who have been historically and currently underrepresented or underserved — in the creation and implementation of the policies and practices that impact their lives.

Across Oregon, there are important policy conversations happening at schools and involving youth — ranging from the environment, to school shootings, to equity and justice issues in schools. Although young people are the key to our future and should have a voice in the policy issues that affect their safety, wellness, and future, current voting and government processes do not include and are not accessible to students and young people. This is the case even with policy making processes at the Oregon Department of Education that directly impact young people.

With HB 4099, the Oregon Legislature has the opportunity to create a new state-level group through which youth can inform educational policy making. To support diverse voices, the bill would specify representation of youth who identify as: Black, Indigenous, and youth of color; disabled; LGBTQ, intersex, asexual, two-spirit; bilingual or multilingual and/or navigating poverty from all regions of Oregon. In summary, this bill will elevate the voices of youth about policies that directly impact them, empower youth to be engaged in our democratic and civic processes, and recognize the strength and value of young people in our state