Support students’ right to be heard

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Support students’ right to be heard

By Anthony Sevilla

In the wake of a school shooting earlier this year in Parkland, Fla., students decided, “Hey, watching my classmates being murdered isn’t fun.” Following their intuition, the Parkland teenagers have orchestrated overwhelmingly successful protests against gun violence.

In the name of patriotism and the Constitution, some older millennials and baby boomers have decided that protesting is nonsense and teenagers aren’t qualified to talk about gun violence (almost like they weren’t directly affected by it).

Of course, this is expected. Coming out and protesting something as deeply woven into the American fabric as guns is like boycotting pizza and beer.

However, those claiming that teenagers don’t have the knowledge or life experience to talk about gun violence don’t seem to realize that societal progression has rarely been accomplished with complacency. A Ph.D. isn’t needed to voice your opinions on a problem that has affected you and your community.

The African-American community didn’t win the fight against overt discrimination by being passive while injustice ran rampant. As a group, they decided enough was enough and compelled legislators to seriously examine and revise the laws.

Being able to stand up and fight for what you believe in is a vital American right. While we now see these rights as inalienable, protesters fighting for these same rights were met with violence from those that swore to uphold the law.

Even more recently, a school shooting in Santa Fe has killed 10. School shootings have been as consistent as death and taxes, yet almost no action has been taken. Those speaking out against the senseless tragedies that happen almost daily are proactively enacting the change they want to see in society.

Unless we decide as a society that this is wrong and can be prevented, school shootings will never become an event of the past, and we will never move forward.

Outrage against protests is almost mandatory for any productive protest because it means the protest is working; protests are meant to make people uncomfortable.

The Parkland students are effectively and powerfully exercising their First Amendment rights, and they are sending a powerful message to legislators: “We will vote you out.”

All students have a right to be heard, and everyone, regardless of their personal beliefs, should support that.