When my daughter, a high school senior, came home and told me she wanted to help spearhead the National School Walkout at her school, all I felt was pride. I’m not ashamed to admit that it was unadulterated, pure bragging-rights, puffed-up, patting-myself-on-the-back, social-media-post-worthy-pride.
And she is in good company: I personally know many of the students who signed up for the walkout at my daughter’s school, and while they are not all politically aligned, they do agree that something has to be done to improve student safety — and maybe calling for common sense gun laws is a good place to start.
These students have a desire to be a part of a national movement to honor lives lost and speak out against Congress’ perpetual inaction. I am feeling hopeful and exhilarated by these youth.
Sadly, administrators in the school district we live in are not.
It is disheartening to me that the nation’s politics are so polarized that district officials have notified students and parents that they are choosing to enforce disciplinary action for participants, rather than choosing to use this teaching moment to further inspire our youth. Don’t we want educated, civically active young people heading to the polls? Maybe they can achieve change our generation could not.
As parents it’s our job to teach our children to be confident, civically engaged citizens. My own education about our democracy, and why it’s important, extended well beyond the walls of the classroom. My parents always emphasized the importance of civic engagement — hence my fervent support of our my daughter’s involvement in the walkout. I still have passionate conversations about current social issues with my 93-year-old grandmother and hope to do the same with my grandchildren.
My husband and I have taught our two daughters to advocate for themselves, people they care about and issues important to them. We believe raising girls to be empowered young women is imperative to their future success in our dominantly patriarchal society. Most of the student organizers at my daughter’s school are young women, and that is something to be celebrated!
I am counting on these teenagers to press forward with their peaceful civil disobedience until our lawmakers do their job. The presence of opposition is what challenges one to rise. And I’m honored to witness these youth rise.
My daughter will walk out of her school at 10 a.m. Wednesday with hundreds of her peers, with or without the support of the school district. She will accept the consequences handed down by the district, and she will feel empowered. And I will still feel proud.