We’ve been seeing student advocates all over the news the last few days after the Parkland school shooting. It’s not typical to see high school students dominate headlines for this long without sign of stopping.
What’s different about this school shooting? Why is it catching people’s attention?
Answer: the young people. The students are leading the charge and won’t take “thoughts and prayers” as enough. They are openly calling bullshit.
At MnEEP, we see students leading and creating change every day. A healthy school climate is what MnEEP’s Big Bold Goal #2 strives to attend for all students across Minnesota–and we see them working together to build that movement in so many ways.
As adults and educators, it’s on us to ask ourselves: How can we stand by students who are calling for safer schools? How can we foster an environment where students—at a minimum—feel safe, but can also thrive? The answer is by listening to and championing young people. Every time. Look at every successful movement in history and the role young people played. Every time young people have been the difference makers — Vietnam protests, Civil Rights Movement marches and sit-ins, just to name a few.
Locally, I have the privilege of working with the Minnesota Youth Council, students who work day in and day out to make change. It’s not just MYC, there are many groups doing this work all over the place. Solutions Not Suspensions Coalition is another way Minnesota students and educators are working to create a school environment that fosters belonging, collaboration, and safety for all students. Dignity in Schools is a national campaign that sees young people heading to the Minnesota state capitol to shape policy and end school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline.
Now more than ever, it’s important that we support the young people doing this work. We must use our privilege and networks to elevate their voice.
Believe young people. Trust young people. Step aside for young people.
Adults, we must work with not for young people to make change. The voices of young people have been pushed aside by adults for too long, and now’s the time to not only move aside, but elevate the voice of students.
RESOURCES AND REMINDERS FOR STUDENTS:
Young people: want to advocate for issues that are important to you? Think about attending Youth Day at the Capitol on Tuesday March 27th and learn key skills to talk to others about what you are passionate about. Send any questions to YDACmn@gmail.com.
“Remember, your school *can* discipline you for an unexcused absence, but it can’t punish you more harshly simply for participating in political protest. And your school cannot threaten or intimidate you if you are planning on protesting
If you feel like your rights have been violated, contact the ACLU of Minnesota: https://www.aclu-mn.org/en/request-assistance.