Youth in Action: September-October 2022

September 24, 2022

From the September-October 2022 issue of News & Letters

by Buddy Bell

High school students in Denton, Texas, walked out of class on Aug. 26, protesting a new gag rule that prevents teachers from speaking freely about race, gender, and sexuality. The joyful group of over 100 students held signs saying, “Protect Trans Kids,” and “You can’t erase history.” In a statement shared with the Denton Record-Chronicle, student organizer Marceline Temple remarked, “We will not let this school board treat the existence of minorities as a controversy.”

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About 50-60 high schoolers at Lindblom Academy in Chicago held a morning demonstration on the school steps on their first day of classes. They demanded that “Mama Eagle,” a beloved assistant principal, be reinstated. She had been sacked for no apparent reason by a newly appointed principal. Some students vowed to speak at the next meeting of Chicago’s unelected school board.

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In Jenks, Okla., a few dozen students protested a new school dress code. Congregating on Aug. 18 in a grocery store parking lot down the street from school, the students wore shirts and held signs that said, “I am not a distraction.” Eighth-grader Sienna Renz told NBC: “I feel violated because I’m not comfortable with teachers looking at my body and pointing things out, measuring my shorts. It feels disturbing.”

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In Milwaukee, students at Marquette University occupied an outdoor stage during a first-day-of-semester convocation in order to criticize the school’s lack of diversity in front of administrators in attendance. College senior Lionel Clay told WTMJ: “We asked for more Black staff to be hired. We asked them to increase diversity programs, to provide resources for students of color.”

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Skateboarder Lid Madrid used to be afraid to practice among male skaters in Chicago’s various public skate parks. “As a queer female and a beginner, [I’d] find myself sticking to the adjacent parking lot… and I’ve been lucky… some women experience direct harassment or inappropriate behavior,” she said to the Chicago Reader. Madrid then helped start OnWord Skate Collective, a woman-friendly, LGBTQ+ inclusive skate crew that started by organizing meetups online. “When we go to a skate park, we take up space, and then all of a sudden you don’t see a bunch of guys trying to tell you to move out the way.”

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