Thursday, July 12, 2018

PROPOSAL: Let's Form a Texas Children's Legislature by Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D.

I got this idea for a Texas Children's Legislature (TCL) many years ago after learning about the Texas Silver Haired Legislature (TSHL), already with an organized presence in 31 states.  Imagine that?! 

Even though, by definition, the vast majority of TCL participants will not be of voting age, they certainly have a voice and an interest.

At this proposed TCL, children from across the state, from every corner, can convene annually or biennially (our legislature convenes every other year) at our state capitol here in Austin, Texas, and draft legislation, review bill proposals, as well as current laws that do and do not serve their interests, needs, or concerns—and that may even be harmful to them.  And like the TSHL, they could do this in anticipation of the regular sessions of the Texas State Legislature.  And how amazingly powerful an experience this would be for their personal, professional, and intellectual development! 

Establishing this could consist of a collaborative effort involving K-12 student organizations working with the non-profit sector, civil rights organizations, university students and faculty who teach and do research in policy-related fields, and any organization concerned about children's welfare, voice, and civic engagement. 

Maybe the TSHL could lend a helping hand, too.  After all, we need our elders.  

Plus, children can reciprocate by weighing in and supporting a Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.  The TSHL can also support the creation of an independent Commissioner for America’s Children and while they are at it, they can also support the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child that the U.S. still has not signed!

Maybe joint TSHL and TCL statements could get written and delivered.  Proposals in hand, this could even result in eye-catching, press conferences throughout the state wherever TSHL and TCL members can join together to support a progressive, elder- and child-friendly agenda.  Districts could weigh in, too, and regularly send students from all grade levels to participate.  These are just ideas...however, the sky is the limit in terms of what we could envision and co-construct.

Do check out the TSHL website on your own to learn what they're about.

Sí se puede!  Yes we can!

Angela Valenzuela


The Silver-Haired Legislature was founded in 1973 in Missouri and has since been adopted in 31 states. Conceived in 1979, the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature was formed in 1985 by the 69th Texas Legislature. The elected members of the TSHL met for the first time for a training session in July 1986. This nonpartisan and non-profit organization is composed of 116 representatives elected to two-year terms by Texans over 60 years of age.

Strategic Plan

The Texas Silver-Haired Legislature Strategic Plan provides a guide to the future of the Association. The plan is based upon the Legislative authorization from the 69th Texas Legislature and the Association vision statement.


There are six main goals that the TSHL strives to achieve. The TSHL goals center around Senior welfare and range from motivation and education to provision of an open discussion forum for Seniors. The objective of these goals is to realize passage of TSHL priorities in the Texas Legislature.
Office Definitions

The TSHL offices generally mirror those of the Texas House of Representatives. Officers are elected by TSHL members to the positions of Speaker, Speaker Pro-Tem,Deputy Speaker Pro-Tem, Secretary and Comptroller. In addition there are several offices in the Administrative and Legislative Committees.


The Texas Silver-Haired Legislature strives to promote good government for all Texans by directly involving Senior citizens in the legislative process. TSHL provides a nonpartisan forum for discussion and debate of Senior issues, advocacy training and an avenue through which older citizens may serve as a resource to both public and private sectors.

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