Letter: Rise up, young people

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Rise up, young people

There was a time when the saying that children should be seen and not heard may have made sense. That time is over.

There was a time that it may have made sense to tell high school students to sit back and agree with the opinions of their teachers, their elders and their communities. To take those views at face-value. To accept them as gospel because they were too young to form legitimate opinions about society and politics. That time is over.

The First Amendment stands for the proposition that our democracy should have a vibrant marketplace of ideas; the proposition that we should welcome diverse opinions in our political discourse; and the proposition that when we do that, our nation is stronger.

Almost 50 years ago, the Supreme Court stated that students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. It’s time that we live up to that statement.

Right now, young people are peacefully demanding that their voices be heard. They are tired of being told that their opinions are not informed enough to enter the marketplace of ideas. That they are too young to participate in our democracy. That even when they’re caught in the cross hairs, they should not have a voice.

Deferring to adults on the issues of school safety have not served young people well. It’s time to try something different. It’s time for young people to stand up, speak out and be heard.