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.