The Youth and Student Bill of Rights
Adopted on June 7, 1998 at the 6th National Convention of the Young Communist League
Today's global order is the rule of the almighty dollar. Powered by fierce inequality and blatant exploitation, the multinational corporations make billions in profits while reaping the earth's resources and people on the altar of the "global market."
The youth of America, in every area are systematically downgraded and excluded from decision-making. Politicians use us as public relations tools--posing for pictures with young people, lamenting the state of our schools and communities and the "lost generation." While at the same time they promote anti-youth stereotypes and policies. We refuse to let our voices be silenced.
Therefore, the Young Communist League USA presents this Bill of Rights for discussion and action. We invite all people and organizations who agree to fight for these standards for youth rights, and unite a broad movement to demand a better future.
The right to free, quality education from nursery to university. This includes multicultural, multilingual curricula. Non-racist and non-sexist education must be guaranteed. Free breakfast and lunch programs for all schools. Stipends for full-time college students.
The right to full equality regardless of race, nationality, sex, religion or sexual orientation. Special measures must be taken to overcome past and present discrimination against African Americans, Latinos, other racially and nationally oppressed peoples and women.
Full funding to rebuild the neighborhoods in these communities. Federal laws with goals and timetables to desegregate housing and schools. Affirmative action with goals and timetables for jobs and education. Equal rights for immigrants.
The right to free, quality health care. Create a national health-care system for universal access to medical care from birth to old age. This includes HIV and AIDS care, birth control and abortion, prenatal care, prescriptions, eye and dental care, and all other medical necessities. Cut the insurance company profiteers out of the equation so no one can be turned away from any hospital because of lack of insurance. There must be equal levels of care and resources at all hospitals and clinics in all neighborhoods.
The right to publically-controlled media and press. Create real public media and press to provide a serious alternative to monopoly corporate media. Guaranteed media access for young people to get their voices heard and have positive educational and entertaining programs for young people without any influence of advertisers. Ban ads targeting children.
The right to recreation, arts, cultural and sports activities. The city, state and federal governments can build and rebuild community, state and national parks and forests. Youth centers and parks for every community with full access to pools, fields and other sports and recreational activities. Regular community and city-wide concerts, dances, and theater to put young musicians, writers, actors and other artists to work and provide affordable cultural enjoyment for our communities.
The right to live in environmentally safe communities. Make corporations pay the billions of dollars needed to clean up the toxic and hazardous sites that they created. Reinstate full protections on our natural resources, our air, water, land. Stop corporate exploitation of our environment.
The right to live in crime-free and drug-free communities. Civilian review boards with full disciplinary power should be set up in every community to protect against police brutality and law-enforcement corruption; these boards must have the power to dismiss corrupt officials and abusive cops. Create a more just criminal justice system that promotes alternatives to incarceration, such as drug, alcohol and psychological treatment. Dismantle the CIA as a corrupt and anti-democratic tool for corporate interests which has been linked to drug-trafficking organizations.
The right to live in peace with the people of the world. Nuclear disarmament and an end to all weapons of mass destruction. Massive cutbacks in military spending and halt all arms exporting. Retool military production for civilian production; we want a peace dividend.
The right to full constitutional protection in the schools. High school students' Constitutional rights have been limited in the areas of privacy rights, search and seizure and disciplinary procedures, freedom of speech, and others. Suspensions and expulsions should be a last resort subject to review and veto by a community/parent/student/teacher review board. Alternate programs should be fully funded such as counseling and family counseling, job training and conflict resolution. Halt all unequal punishment in schools.
The right to youth representation in all public entities. Government bodies should be made up of trade unionists, workers, community leaders, students and young people. The racial composition of their bodies should reflect our multiracial, multinational population. Women and men should be represented equally in such structures. Youth should have the right to vote on issues that affect their lives.
To reach the goals set in our Youth and Student Bill of Rights, we must unite and work together, learning from the past and working towards making a great future for not just the priviliged few, but for all. In order for humanity to survive and progress, we need unity, organization, and struggle.
The capitalist system of universal greed and the cold logic of the marketplace has failed the vast majority of people of our nation and the world. We must unite to fight against the worst symptoms of this system today and struggle to change the system at the root tomorrow.
Young Communist League USA
United States Student Association
State Association of the State University of New York,
IFCO/Pastors for Peace