Being an Advocate: An Interview with Teen Leadership Board Member, Citlali


Citlali, 16 yrs. old

What drew you to joining the Teen Leadership Board?

I joined the Teen Leadership Board because of my passion for social justice and advocacy. I want to be proactive in looking for solutions to issues that affect young people today. I am part of the first group to be part of Teen Leadership Board. Last year was the pilot year so as a group we spent a lot of time figuring out our platform. I have had the pleasure of listening to women on panels to talk to us about issues they are fighting against. I have also participated in marches such as the Womxn’s March in January.  

Why is advocacy important to you?

It is important to bring awareness and to educate people on issues that affect society. I want to make sure my voice is represented and heard.  At Girls Inc there were always lessons on how to advocate for yourself and others when needed. They have shown me that voice is important and if I want change then I have to be able to use it in an impactful way.

You’re spearheading change in the dress code at your school. Why is this issue important to you?

Since I was in the 6th grade it always seemed to me that the dress code at school was sexist. As I got older I started to realize that the rules we had were geared only towards the young females. The more I started to dissect the language in which females got dress coded I started to notice that it would blame the females for distractions in the classroom. I saw the issue and talked to other students about their thoughts on dress code and I was able to see similarities within all the statements. The female students felt targeted by my school’s dress code.

What do you hope to change?

I hope to make my school’s dress code less biased. By this I mean creating a gender neutral dress code that does not disproportionately target females, modeling one similar to Portland Public Schools.  

What steps have you taken already, and what are your next steps?

I created a survey on Instagram and over 600 people responded. On the survey I asked each person for their experience with dress codes in their school districts. I also used Tik Toc to make my case about dress code and my video has over 700,000 views. I am currently working on a presentation that displays all of the data given from the surveys as well as important points to talk about while I’m presenting. I will be presenting to my principal and vice principal about the dress code changes in the near future.