All voices are unique.
Completely different depending on the person. Everyone all over the world, billions of different voices. Twisting and creating syllables to masterfully weave over 6,500 different languages worldwide. How is it that some voices are more powerful than others? It is the same words, the same meaning, that can be created by anyone. Any voice can be powerful in its own right and should be valued for all that it has to say.
A voice that is often overlooked is that of a student. A younger, more naive or less experienced voice is told to not be loud.
“Leave it to the professionals.”
“You don’t know the whole issue, much less how to give an opinion on it.”
As young people we are pressured to let things go because we aren’t old enough to concern ourselves with it. Let the smarter and older people handle it. Most young people feel like their voice is only valid once they reach a certain age. They have been told to leave things to the “real” adults their whole lives, so why are we surprised when they don’t make decisions or speak out until they are “old enough”?
Consider low turnout of young voters. The question of why young people don’t vote is simple when you realize the messages being fed to teens and young adults.
The “leave it to the real adults” mindset is a pandemic disease spreading through young people.
Instead of extinguishing or pushing aside young voices, we need to foster them. That starts at school. By letting students be a part of school decisions we will begin to value our own voice.
We should not be keeping students in the dark on decisions that directly affect us.
When school grading systems or curriculums are changed, adults are making decisions about our future and how we learn. When school safety policy is being discussed, adults are debating our very lives and what they think are the best ways to keep us safe. How can we not be given a voice in these matters, and countless other things that directly affect us?
We are the ones going to school with a flag at half staff almost every time we walk by it because of the latest shooting. We are the ones staying up until midnight to do homework and get the grade or finish the assignment. We are the ones going to eight hours of classes to learn what is deemed important. This is our world we live in right now and our voice should matter as much as any other. This starts with a societal change.
People will begin to realize the value in the voices of students everywhere if we start the movement in our very own cities. Advocacy can start in any place, with anyone, and about any topic. All it takes is someone that is brave enough to take a stand and begin a discussion. Some of the largest rights movements in history were established with a single conversation in the most unconventional of places.
First, you need to truly believe that you can start a movement.
If you have the will and determination, you can be unstoppable in whatever you set your mind to. Meet with the administrators or politicians. Write the bills and get involved with local legislation. Put yourself in a position where you can’t be ignored. Stay dedicated.
By putting in the time and work, amazing things can be done.
Let this be a call to action. If there is unfair representation in your area, don’t sit back and watch it happen. Your voice is powerful. Stand up for your beliefs and soon others will follow.
I truly believe that if we refuse to be pushed aside, to be told our opinions don’t matter, to be silenced, then we can make real change, despite our age.
About Student Voice
Student Voice is a by-students, for-students 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in all 50 states to equip students as storytellers, organizers and institutional partners who advocate for student-driven solutions to educational inequity. Through direct civic action, Student Voice helps students hold their schools and surrounding communities accountable to the Student Bill of Rights and prepares them to become lifelong agents of social and political change. For more information about Student Voice, visit our website at StuVoice.org and follow @Stu_Voice and #StuVoice on social media.