Patience: Schools that Teach Protest Should Allow Protest

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By Alisa Patience

The Parkland Florida school shooting has inspired students at schools all over the country to participate in school walk-outs as a form of peaceful protest against the government’s inaction regarding gun violence. These walk-outs have caused school administrators to threaten their students with detention and suspension. Many believe these protests are immature and should not to be taken seriously. Luckily, many colleges have assured students that any punishment inflicted by their high schools for participating in peaceful walk-outs will not affect their chances of getting accepted. Clearly, some institutions realize the seriousness of these student’s protests.

Public school students of all ages have grown up with a curriculum and a media that encourages youths to take a stand and participate in fighting corruption. Public schools have required us to read books like the “Diary of Ann Frank” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” in English classes. These books were arguably intended to show examples of strong children, allowing readers to freely begin questioning why the world is the way it is. These illustrations opened the door for students to start learning how to make difference in the face of authority. Ann Frank’s optimism in a time of seemingly post-apocalyptic Fascism was inspirational and shows the terrors of a highly corrupt society. Jean “Scout” Louis shows us problems in America’s legal system and the frustration of a child’s opinions often being ignored. Of course, despite the hurdles and barriers these children have to face, each overcomes their trials, inspiring readers of all ages to persevere and stick to what is right.

Also featured in public school libraries, Harry Potter is arguably the most successful fantasy series in the world. Each book contains a plot hosting a group of brave, intelligent and determined kids who take action against the evil threatening their school. Though they face various disciplinary punishments along the way, Harry and his friends never give up the fight for what is right and save their school multiple times throughout the series.

The Hunger Games, first in books and then in movies, has been very popular among America’s student body. If you don’t already know, it’s a series where, thanks to an oppressive government system, children are chosen to represent their districts in a televised fight to the death. Following the drama and the action, the corrupt government system is brought down when one young girl mourns the death of a person of color, inspiring every district to join in a rebellion.

The Divergent series follows a comparable plot to the Hunger Games but teaches us that any group of people who stereotype you, try to fit you into a single box or believe that you aren’t worthy of living if you don’t conform to society are wrong and need to be shut down.

In addition, we had the Maze Runner series, Matched, Artemis Fowl, Percy Jackson, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc. – all books about children affected by serious wrongs, finding ways to voice how the world should be run. They back up their beliefs by fighting for good regardless of the power of authority standing in their way. The last time I checked, all of these books have been found in our nation’s public school libraries.

After teaching today’s younger generations that it’s important to stand up for what they believe in and that they have a voice amid the chaos and corruption affecting their lives, depriving them of the chance to take action in a peaceful manner is wrong. It’s absurd for parents and administrations to disregard student protests and cries as, say, immature and disrespectful. If administrators want students to grow into honorable people who stand up for what they think is right, as they’ve shown through the emphasis on an education partially grounded in stories like those I mentioned above, then those authorities should back their claims up with an acceptance of student protests.