Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 310–321 | Cite as

Youth Voices and Knowledges: Slam Poetry Speaks to Social Policies

  • Amanda FieldsEmail author
  • Shannon Snapp
  • Stephen T. Russell
  • Adela C. Licona
  • Elizabeth H. Tilley
  • The Crossroads Collaborative


Policies related to youth and their sexuality, health, and rights are rarely informed by youth voices and perspectives. We sought to understand youth voice and knowledges in their conceptions of youth rights expressed through slam poetry. We draw from theories of critical race, LatCrit, and asset-based approaches to adolescent sexual health to explore youth’s perspectives on sexuality, health, and rights. Using rhetorical and content analysis, we analyzed 50 poems from a local organization that supports youth poetry slam. Key themes that emerged in our analyses included youth (in 33 % of poems), sexuality (7 %), health (10 %), and rights (7 %). A smaller selection of poems (n = 9) that represented key themes were chosen for critical analysis. Youth consistently responded to regressive legislation in Arizona through slam poetry and expressed the desire for rights to knowledges and the need for supportive policies and practices that consider and reflect the complex realities of their lives. Youth made calls for action and community outreach, and they used poetry as an expression of social action and change. We conclude that youth voice may inform policies and practices that are comprehensive in support of sexual health and rights for youth.


Youth Sexuality Health Rights Poetry Legislation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda Fields
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shannon Snapp
    • 2
  • Stephen T. Russell
    • 2
  • Adela C. Licona
    • 1
  • Elizabeth H. Tilley
    • 3
  • The Crossroads Collaborative
  1. 1.English Department, Modern LanguagesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Frances McClelland Institute of Children, Youth, and FamiliesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Family Studies and Human DevelopmentUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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