Alyson Nordstrom, 17, knew that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would result in the girls and women of her community losing their rights to obtain an abortion entirely. Despite the challenges of fighting for a blue issue in a red state, Nordstrom helped form Teens for Reproductive Rights, a coalition of teens who organize fundraisers for abortion care, post infographics about current abortion restrictions in Tennessee and encourage teenagers to vote.
After reading about fellow students’ experiences with sexual assault, college student Morgan Aspinwall jumped to action. With support from I Have the Right To, an advocacy organization, she created a Google map indicating locations of reported cases of sexual assault and activism internationally.
Teen-led groups and organizations around the country are demonstrating the impact local period product drives have on curbing period poverty, ending period stigma, and the value of securing resources on a community and legislative level.
After realizing that gender equality wasn’t a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, Rosie Couture and her friend Belan Yeshigeta founded Generation Ratify, an organization dedicated to adding the ERA to the Constitution. Other women-led organizations, such as The Feminist Front and The Ruth Project, joined the fight.
“Advocating for the ERA means advocating for a fight that began with many of our grandmothers.”
When Title IX was passed 50 years ago this month, it helped girls gain access to spaces that they were not able to enter.
In my own family, Title IX changed the course of the lives of my activist grandmother, Silicon Valley executive aunt and my student-athlete cousin.
Anouk Yeh, Santa Clara County’s 2021-2022 inaugural youth poet laureate, is proud of the megaphone she’s given to incarcerated youth through weekly poetry workshops on Zoom.
When school went online during COVID lockdowns, Kimberly Vasquez’s unreliable WiFi started to hinder her schoolwork. Her grade point average dropped but her family could only afford the low-cost plan that wasn’t suitable for remote learning.
Vasquez, joined by Yashira Valenzuela and Aliyah Abid, organized to petition Comcast to make their plans faster and more economical for low-income families. After rallying at Comcast headquarters, the city’s largest provider made the most affordable option for internet run at twice the speed.
Eleni Livingston and Rana Banankhah, both 17 years old, are voting members of their states’ board of education. They help decide high school graduation requirements, determine teacher qualifications and develop state student assessments. They also bridge the gender gap in education leadership—since women make up only 31 percent of school district chiefs. Their experiences show the importance of student voices in policymaking.
“On the board it can be intimidating to go in, as a young woman, as a teenager, into an environment like that and jump right in and start advocating for my peers,” Livingston said.
“To be treated like an adult, even though I can’t even vote for [U.S.] president, was really eye-opening,” Banankhah said.
After learning about legislation restricting abortion in her home state of Texas, 17-year-old Annabel Yu founded Change 4 Choice, selling merch to fundraise for Planned Parenthood.
Instead of wasting away hours scrolling on Instagram and TikTok during quarantine in 2021, Alyssa Simone spent her time researching mental health techniques and sharing her knowledge with her peers.
Recently, her group launched Mentalligence, an immersive program making mental health education accessible to teens weekly via Zoom. So far, over 150 NYC students have connected in small groups to learn about and experiment with different therapy techniques.