CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts

Opinion: Young activists trying to make a change are being shamed

In 2018, teenage opinion has been a dominant source of advocation and progression for reformation in today’s corrupt society, but these opinions have only been shunned, shamed and ignored, creating yet another social injustice.

This is especially true in today’s political atmosphere; the Trump era has brought more social injustice that has been actively fought through a younger audience, changing the older view of solutions to issues like gun control, gay rights and civil rights.

The major underlying issues of pro-gun support, homophobia and racism have run through society and foundational roots of the nation for far too long, and luckily powerful and valid teenage opinions have been on the rise throughout the country.  With many marches, speeches and movements, teenagers have proved to be a prevalent power in progression and reform to a more accepting society.

However, a lot of the older generation has shunned and barred the progress teenagers have tried to achieve. Even though teenagers like David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez, Ellen Jones and Amika George are exhibiting extensive activism with emotional and powerful speeches and organizations, they are labeled under “teenager;” a broad term not taken seriously among many adults.

Alexa Curtis, 16, shares her experience with rejection as an opinionated young adult. “No, I’m not an ‘adult’ with years and years of college experience, life experience and money to back me up, but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid or anything close to it. Teenagers are technical, smarter and more advanced than adults are.”

Teenagers are as, or even more, aware of real world issues than adults and very passionate about helping to change them.

The Civil Rights era, which included the fight for women’s, gay’s and colored peoples’ rights was taken over by teenagers and young activists. During events like the Greensboro sit-ins, high school and college students took the lead by protesting segregation and fighting for equal service, but were deemed by white supremacists as, “puppets of Martin Luther King Jr..”

Young women controlled numerous protests by wearing pants to school and burning their undergarments to act against the expectations a woman was expected to follow, showing young feminism throughout our school systems. Gay rights were fought for by young adults and teenagers actively fighting with protests like the Stonewall riots.

Many years have passed since these outbursts of heavy activism and this constant push for change got bills like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. Small strides for reformation have integrated their way into society and were and are still being carried into the 21st century.

Issues like women’s rights and gun control had huge achievements in recent years in which teenagers have taken major leadership roles. On Jan. 21, 2017, quickly after the Trump inauguration, women everywhere across the globe marched to fight for recognition and change amongst the prolonged stalemate of women’s rights.

Teenagers like Rowan Blanchard and Cat Just started advocating on social media and actively participating in such marches. The marches were heavily populated with a vast and diverse group of women ranging from ages three to ninety. And although the Women’s March was not completely started by a teenage population, the determination and activism shown by young women and men across the nation proved admirable among many.

This includes many high school students such as Lilly Chidlaw-Mayen, junior in high school. “ Teenagers are proving their value right now. I participated in the last Women’s March and the March For Our Lives in Downtown LA, and I saw so many teenagers and children with inspirational signs. It gave me hope,” Chidlaw-Mayen said.

The March For Our Lives Movement in particular began on the basis of teenage organization. The movement started from students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which recently went through a school shooting in which 17 people died. Emma Gonzalez, 18, became a prominent face for the movement and millions of people across the nation participated. It sought to support anti-gun ideals and fight against current legislation enacted to protect the legalization of poor gun laws.

Gonzalez and another prominent figure, David Hogg, are primary examples of teenage awareness and control of real world issues who have actively fought and spoken about them despite the fact that they are young.

Elisa Rivas, 17, is another prime example of why this does not matter. “At this point in time, no, teenage opinion will not be considered. We are constantly regarded as immature and unknowing despite having a president who says things such as, ‘I met with the president of the Virgin Islands,’ as well as ‘Grab her by the pussy.’ However, the active fight we as teenagers keep pursuing is a foreshadow to our uprising,” Rivas said.

As teenagers continue the fight, the opinions can not be ignored and the inevitable defeat of old ideals will be replaced with new ones.