Your Voice Matters…

February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Both of the things that I’ve written about in this entry made the rounds on internet news and blogging outlets last week, but I think they are worth reposting and talking about here for a very specific reason.  They send a message that young adults can make a difference. Their voices are necessary and they are informed.

It doesn’t matter what cause you are fighting for, whether it is better awareness about the environment, or advocacy for survivors of sexual assault, or for civil rights for LGBTQ people, your voice is needed. And more importantly, your voice can be used to make the world a little bit better for all of us.

The two women in the picture below, Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton,  are high school seniors in Minneapolis. They also happen to be gay. According to the Associated Press, after Sarah and Desiree, were elected to the schools royalty court, school officials last week announced a change in procedure- traditionally, those who are voted onto the royalty court enter the procession in boy-girl pairs- but school officials decided that this year,  court members would walk in individually or accompanied by a parent or favorite teacher. They claimed that the change was in order to protect the Sarah and Desiree from being teased by their peers.

Two human rights groups sued the school district on behalf of Sarah and Desiree and after federally mediated discussions, officials announced that, “Members of the royalty court would be escorted by anyone meaningful to them, regardless of gender or age.” This was a step in the right direction for the school district- which just this last year received critiques of its neutrality policy regarding LGBT students after one of their students, Justin Aaberg, committed suicide after constant harassment by peers for being gay.

Upon entering the procession, Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton were greeted with cheers.

This is where your voice comes in. Their peers could have chosen silence, they could have chosen to scream hate speech. Instead, they chose to stand. They chose to applaud. They chose to cheer. And, as result, they took something that had been really difficult and probably painful for these two young women- who were brave in their own right for speaking out against their school’s discriminatory policy- and turned it into something they will want to remember for the rest of their lives. Plus, don’t they look happy?

The other young person making headlines in the last week was an Iowa college student, Zach Wahls, who spoke out to the Iowa House of Representatives to support the marriage of his parents.  Iowa is one of five states where gay marriage is legal and currently there is an amendment before the House of Representatives to make it illegal once again.  Zach is eloquent, well prepared, and has some fantastic insights. Even though the Iowa House ended up voting for the amendment, I think that it was imperative that they heard what he had to say.  As an added bonus the video went viral on YouTube so many, many others have been reached by his message as well. It just goes to show, that although you may think no one is listening, your voice might be heard much further than you can even imagine.

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