Give Youth a Voice

To transform school culture, it is necessary to achieve the “buy-in” of all members of the school community. Young people need and want meaningful opportunities to voice their opinions and to be involved in making decisions that affect them. Consulting and involving youth in planning and implementing activities, initiatives, policy development and projects related to equity and inclusive education will greatly increase the chance of success.

student smiling face

Students who have felt excluded or unfairly treated will doubtless have built up resentment and anger. This may be difficult and a source of conflict in a school and it may be tempting to avoid the issues, especially if there is disagreement. Teachers can work with administrators to provide various forums, approaches and venues (committees, consultations, surveys, etc.) so that students who wish can express their experiences, feelings and concerns to adults and to the school community.

Whatever the concrete outcomes and results, a process that enables youth to speak out and feel heard is essential to facilitate collaboration and authentic dialogue. Adults can effectively engage youth in a constructive exchange by adopting a positive and non-judgmental tone.