The youth is constantly being spoken over and our voices are not valued when we want to participate in discussions about the issues in our world. When I’ve tried to speak about issues that I’m passionate about with my older peers I have been shut down and told, “You don’t understand it, you’re still young.” I think that people who dismiss youths views are afraid of us reaching an intelligence level higher than yours; afterall age doesn’t determine social awareness. Shutting youth voices down isn’t going to stop the discussions, so why wouldn’t you want to be a part of the change?
One day we are going to be the adults of the world. Voting, working, and running
the country. Don’t you want those adults to be educated? Education starts now. You can’t just expect us to wake up the day we turn 18 with a completely new brain, with new opinions and educated thoughts. You have to start now, and the first step to that is including us in these conversations rather than shielding us from them.
Clubs like Real Talk and GSA have dedicated themselves to being youth led and adult facilitated with an audience of mostly high school students. These clubs not only help us become educated on topics more than a simple internet search would, but they help teach us important communication skills as well as giving us the chance to take leadership roles and help spread our knowledge.
These clubs are like no other with their unique attributes that help progress our development and are made specifically for youth voices. These clubs open a safe space for everyone involved as well as give kids the chance to ask questions without feeling dumb, teach others in a caring environment with peers that’ll listen to them, and participate in real discussions without being shut down. It allows you to form your own personal opinion rather than having one shoved down your throat or not having one at all.
GSA is a club which focusses primarily on issues within the LGBTQ+ community and the intersections with other minority groups is open to all high school students. This club meets every Thursday after school, and is led by Ezra Morales, a junior at the Ann Richards school, and has a board full of other high school students. The club is a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth to meet and discuss issues that are targeting them as well as possible solutions. Additionally LGBTQ+ students are able to open the discussion up to allies, people who are outside but support the LGBTQ+ community, and further educate and answer their questions.
GSA is a club that is making a change. Not only are our voices being amplified, but we’re in an environment where we are fully accepted for who we truly are. Our solutions, questions and opinions are taken seriously and help everyone leaving the conversation feel a little bit better about themself and their mind.
Another progressive club is Real Talk, which is available to high school students as well as 8th graders every Friday after school. In this club the topics mentioned are a variety of all kinds of social issues or anything that anyone is passionate about. The youth leaders of this club are Kai Bovik (10) and Lauren Breach (10) who help facilitate most meetings as well as plan meetings. In Real Talk not only are youth voices finally being heard, but we’re also learning essential information in a group setting with people you can have an intellectual conversation with after. These issues, although heavy, are important to talk and learn about yet aren’t taught in the core curriculum at school. This gives students a place to not just converse but to educate themselves on current issues and how they tie into history, and what we’re going to do about them.
These clubs are rooted in youth voices. These clubs recognize that we are the future, and we deserve just as much of a voice as the adult next to us. These clubs recognize that youth voices matter.