National Youth Rights Association
|Headquarters||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
The National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) is the largest youth-led civil rights organization in the United States promoting youth rights, with approximately ten thousand members. NYRA proposes lessening and removing various legal restrictions that are imposed on young people but not adults, for example, the drinking age, voting age, and curfews;
Youth rights movement
The youth rights movement first utilized the Internet in 1991, with the creation of the Y-Rights listserv mailing list. Two members of that original Internet presence, Matthew Walcoff and Matt Herman, began a non-profit organization out of that mailing list known as ASFAR. Not too long after ASFAR was founded, a Rockville, Maryland high school student began a youth rights group called YouthSpeak. At the same time, a third youth from Canada, Joshua Gilbert, was starting a youth rights organization for his country, the Canadian Youth Rights Association (CYRA). Walcoff, Hein and Gilbert all met through ASFAR, and decided to start a non-profit corporation to help unify the youth rights movement, which at that point consisted of almost a dozen different groups around North America and the world.
By June 1998, NYRA was incorporated as a Maryland non-profit public benefit corporation with intention to lead the Youth Rights political movement in the United States. It was formed by the original founders of ASFAR because of the desire to create a moderate, pragmatic organization in the Youth Rights Movement.
NYRA's Executive Director from 2000 to 2012 was Alex Koroknay-Palicz. As its key spokesman, he was featured on CNN, Fox News, PBS, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, as well as many others, on youth rights issues such as the voting and drinking ages. In 2012, Koroknay-Palicz stepped down.
2005 was a significant year for NYRA. In late March, several NYRA members traveled to Vermont in support of a bill lowering the drinking age to 18. They visited numerous colleges and signed up over 2000 new supporters. They participated in a debate at the Vermont state house, and the event was significantly covered by the media. Meanwhile in Washington state, a new chapter in Olympia, Washington, testified in support of a state constitutional amendment to lower the state's voting age to sixteen. From February to August 2006, President Adam King led a local campaign to add a nonvoting student adviser onto the Buncombe County (N.C.) Board of Education. His project had the support of the Asheville Citizen-Times and over 60 faculty members and administrators at his high school. However, in August, the Board of Education rejected his proposal citing that they already had sufficient student input. During his campaign, King made several appearances in the media.
By 2006, NYRA's main area of focus was expanding its local chapters. Chapters had increased fivefold between 2003 and 2006. In 2006, the Board of Directors formally established that chapters are separate legal entities. The chapter formation division saw a major restructure near the end of 2006. Previously, the division was divided into five regions with one person assigned to that region. However, the division's management decided to utilize a national pool of representatives working with all intents throughout the nation. In December 2006, NYRA received its first substantial grant from the Babson Foundation. And in January 2007, it began renting an office from Common Cause in downtown Washington, D.C.
In 2009, NYRA began to take prominent legal action and assert itself as a force for youth and students in jurisprudence. The organization filed its first joint amicus curiae brief in Safford v. Redding, a student rights case brought before the United States Supreme Court, its President published an opinion opposing the Barr et al. v. Lafon case in the award-winning University of Pittsburgh School of Law journal "the Jurist", and a local chapter filed a lawsuit against the city of West Palm Beach, Florida, in an effort to repeal its curfew, a case which is still ongoing.
It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, including Jeffrey Nadel (President) and Stefan Muller (Vice-President).
NYRA also maintains an influential Advisory Board, including Scarlett Swerdlow of Students for Sensible Drug Policy; Kevin Keenan of American Civil Liberties Union-San Diego; Adam Fletcher of The Freechild Project; Dr. Robert Epstein, author of The Case Against Adolescence; Dr. David J. Hanson of Potsdam University; activist Bennett Haselton of Peacefire; Grace Llewellyn, author of the Teenage Liberation Handbook; Dr. Mike A. Males, author of Framing Youth and of University of California, Santa Cruz; Dr. Roderic B. Park of University of Colorado; Nadine Strossen of the American Civil Liberties Union, and; Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H, of the American Council on Science.
- Age Is Just a Number - washingtonpost.com
- National Youth Rights Day. Official website.
- The Young Person's Bill of Rights. Robert Epstein in celebration of the First Annual National Youth Rights Day on April 14, 2010.
- Board of Directors. National Youth Rights Association official website. Retrieved 12/9/12.
- Board of Advisors. National Youth Rights Association official website. Retrieved 1/3/09.