Kids today are often accused of being lazy and apathetic, but this generalization is far from true. In actuality, many students are thoughtful and involved. Here are three recent protests that show how young students are stilling to stand up to oppression and make their voices heard:
1. They Want Better Schools
Hundreds of LA students left their classes to protest outside the Los Angeles Unified School District building – and they didn’t arrive empty-handed. Bringing school desks with them, the students blocked a busy downtown street as they demanded better spending of the district’s budget.
The protest was noticed not only by employees of LAUSD, but also commuters who found themselves stuck in heavy traffic; it took police officers a few hours to clear all 375 desks from the street. The number of desks is hardly arbitrary. Students chose this number to represent the 375 students who drop out of school in the district every single week.
The activists’ main complaint was how the city’s most underperforming schools were not receiving fair or adequate portions of the budget to get them back on track. They also asked for student voices to be better represented on the school board and for additional funding to be directed toward foster children and non-native English speakers.
2. Girls Want to Be Respected, Not Shamed
Although it’s not surprising to hear that middle school girls are being shamed about their bodies, it is pretty unusual (and awesome!) to see them standing up for themselves and doing something about it. That’s the case at Haven Middle School in Evanston, Illinois where girls are contesting an unfair school dress policy.
Recently, the administration decided to forbid teenage girls form wearing leggings to school under the guise of the attire being “too distracting for boys.” However, 13-year-old student Sophie Hasty calls out the rule for what it is: “Not being able to wear leggings because it’s ‘too distracting for boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do. We just want to be comfortable!”
They also noticed the dress policy was inconsistently enforced, with certain rules applying only to girls further along in their body’s development. 12-year-old student Lucy Shapiro noted that she was disciplined for wearing the same thing as her unpunished friend because of the pubescent shape of her body.
Thus far, the girls have been proactive in protecting their right to wear leggings and not be made to feel ashamed of their bodies. In addition to collecting 500 petition signatures from students, they have held a rally where students wore leggings in protest. One girl held a sign that cheekily read, “Are my pants lowering your test scores?”
3. They Are Progressive Toward Homosexuality
When a private Catholic high school learned that its vice principal, Mark Zmuda, had been same-sex married, religious officials decided to terminate his employment. Rather than standing by and watching a popular, hardworking administrator receive the boot, almost the entire student body of the high school organized a sit-in, and later a walk-out, to show support for Zmuda.
Disobeying both school and Catholic rules, the large assembly of students dictated their own vision of right and wrong. Their obvious generational acceptance of homosexuality shows that times are changing and that young Americans care about the outcome.