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Those damned kids…are making me have hope! June 13, 2012

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society.
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So, over the last few years there have been a number of stories about high school students standing up for something they believe in.  Specifically, in my memory, are those students who stood up for the first amendment, LGBTQ rights, and general social progress.  Whether it has been Jessica Ahlquist, Damon Fowler, Matt Leclair, or any of the many other not-quite adults (And yet displaying great adult understanding and maturity), I find it quite promising that the next generation seems to be willing to stand up for what they believe is right.

What bothers me is that those in charge now–the school administrators, politicians, many parents, etc–are the ones they are fighting against.  Shouldn’t the older generations, ideally anyway, be the ones demonstrating maturity and understanding? Is it sad that the students are schooling the teachers and administrators?

I am, of course, severely oversimplifying the issue with a huge dose of confirmation bias; I’m remembering the heroic youth and the egregiously unaware and backward adults they fight against while ignoring the many uninformed students and the many adult activists who have been working tirelessly for decades.  I admit that I do have a bias for the less powerful against the powerful, and have a rebellious streak in me (“no shit,” many of you are saying).  My point is that I’m glad that there are signs that despite an educational system with many flaws and shortcomings, many students seem to get it.

I’m glad that there will be another generation with leaders within it to keep the progress progressing.

But ultimately, I look forward to an ideal world where teenagers can stand up against things of lesser importance at best, mostly because their teachers, administrators, and school board understand the rights and responsibilities that their positions affords them and the students they are placed over.  Again, as is the goal of all activism, I look forward to making activism irrelevant.  I don’t expect that we shall succeed in my lifetime.  If ever.

For decades now, conservative Christians have had the long-term view to take control of school boards, and we have been seeing the result of it now with what happened in Dover, PA a few years back, arguments to “teach the controversy” (hint, there is none), and the various fights between homophobia and LGBTQ supporters.  The internet certainly has helped to keep information flowing in order to combat ignorance about rights and legal protections, and I’m sure we are all glad for that.

I think there is reason to be optimistic.  I think there will be hard fights for many years, but I think that all is not lost.

The sky is not falling, but where there is forecasts of rain there are also many people with umbrellas, and willing to hand out more of them in hopes of sunnier days.

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1. Ash - June 13, 2012

Upon reading this, the first thing I thought of was the book “The Cat Ate My Gymsuit.” Fantastic book, and an excellent example of kids going “against the norm.” There’s one part of the book that’s always haunted me. In the scene, the protagonist calls out the school principal, and he hits back with (paraphrased) “Marcy, that’s not like you at all. Sit down and be quiet.”

That part always disturbed me b/c 1) it was scary that the principal was pretty much telling Marcy to not think for herself (and being degrading, to boot), and 2) I’ve lived with the fear of not being able to speak/act for myself for fear of reaction from elders (family or otherwise.) It’s scary that those responsible for being educators, peers, mentors, etc. cannot get past their own views and adapt/change with the times. I’ve often heard the argument of “That’s not how you were taught to do things!” or “That’s not how you were raised!” We’re given the tools to live, and ultimately I think people have to become creative to adapt/survive.

That being said, the conservative Christians in charge seem to miss the big picture over everything that they’ve been squalling about, be it “the controversy” or LGBT issues. They seem to forget that atheists, science-minded Christians (and science-minded people, period), and LGBTs are American citizens, too. I feel that the conservatives are missing the point that they are alienating a slew of American citizens. Now, what does make me nervous is that the conservative Christians seem to be in the majority, and they seem to be in the same vein as Principal Stone. It’s scary that people can’t just be themselves without having laws created just b/c the lawmaker thinks that it’s wrong from a religious standpoint.


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