I’m here for student protests.

Have passion? Make a statement. The louder, the better.

What I don’t love are school-sponsored “student protests” that hop on the bandwagon and co-opt the non-specific negative feelings about guns and turn raw emotion into an adult-centered activity focused on bullshit concepts like community and togetherness.

Listen, community and togetherness are important. But assembling on a football field and singing Coldplay songs to remember the victims of gun violence differs greatly from student protests, and it bugs me when parents confuse the two.

And it’s happening a lot.

“My kids had a protest day, today.”

“My daughter made a sign for her school’s walkout day.”

I don’t think so.

Student protests are compelling because kids are learning, growing, and making choices about comfort and safety while weighing the consequences of raising their voices. They’re debating tough issues and estimating risk.

“Can I sit here and do nothing while students around the country are massacred? What happens if I walk out and get detention?”

You walk out of class or don’t, but the decision and the consequences are yours. 

School-sponsored protests are the opposite of a student protest. At best, they’re an extension of groupthink and risk being misconstrued as a publicity stunt. At worst, it looks like a weapon of propaganda meant to brainwash these kids into thinking love and friendship will overcome bullets.

Love doesn’t solve gun violence. Better public policy does.

America has a system that allows prominent organizations to override our collective sentiment and create policies and laws that aren’t in the best interest of this country. And there are other topics such as toxic masculinity, money in politics, and, even, mental health that should be examined. I get that kids need to assemble in order to express feelings and grieve. But calling it a protest or a walkout does a disservice to kids who are making explicit choices to put their academic careers on the line because they want to change policy in America.

So, if your kids are gonna protest, let them fucking protest. Don’t make it a party. Don’t have donuts and chaperone the event. Allow your kids to exercise free will but, also, feel the discomfort of going against the grain.

And then hug your kids for me before you ground them. 

I’m overwhelmed by their bravery and inspired by their passion. I admire the determination to solve a problem that my generation couldn’t tackle. And I’m ashamed that gun violence is so bad that kids have to ditch school to make a difference.

We’re lucky this generation is here for all of us.

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