In general, ensuring a good spectrum of gender, race, and class representation in organizing is more effective because groups make better decisions and are better able to reach out to diverse audiences when the group itself is diverse. When there is diversity and buy-in from these groups at the highest levels of decision making, the group can be actively engaged in an ongoing, open dialogue about these underlying power structures, and the group of organizers tends to be more comfortable keeping each other accountable to anti-oppression principles.
Anti-oppression work seeks to recognize the oppression that pervades society and attempts to mitigate its effects and eventually equalize the power imbalance in our communities. Doing effective public engagement for social change with youth requires practitioners to operate from an anti-oppressive perspective and provide youth with opportunities to develop an anti-oppressive lens. That can be done in a number of ways, but is often achieved through the development of community norms, undertaking a specific workshop on oppression, or leaving space for difficult discussions within the programming.
Though many youth public engagement practitioners are not experts on power and privilege, we should all strive to use inclusive language, pay attention to the dynamic within the group we are working with, and consider bringing in someone trained in anti-oppression to provide leadership to the youth. This is delicate and challenging work, but can be essential for youth to understand root causes of social ills and to see their place in making change.