“The mention of politics is a surefire way to get teenagers to fall asleep.” -Leila D’Angelo in The Guardian
Hello. I am a teenager. I am a bisexual teenage girl who is an American citizen and is interested in the fate of our country.
And I am scared.
People like Leila D’Angelo and the everyday human say that teenagers aren’t informed enough to understand politics—they aren’t old enough to understand the issues. And yet, I can distinguish right from wrong, can’t I? I understand basic government, and I understand my own beliefs. I understand basic moral values, and I have developed my own opinions about the world. I make a strong effort to stay informed on the happenings of the world, and I act on my own initiative.
And I am scared.
People say that teenagers aren’t interested in politics, and yet my school hosted their own mock election, in which everyone was engaged. And yet my school has had passionate political debates based on our own opinions and values. And yet one of my school’s most popular electives is the Modern Issues class. And yet my fellow peers can have engaged and informed debates surrounding modern day issues, such as civil rights, the economy, and healthcare. And yet, the Black Mountain Women’s March had a huge youth turnout, and I am proud of that. And yet, the vast majority of teens I know are like me—interested in the fate of our country.
And we are scared.
Why, you ask? Why am I afraid? Because I believe in equality. Because I am a feminist, and I am a girl. Because I am a part of the LGBT+ community. Because I have Hispanic friends. Because I have black friends. Because I am my own person, I want my body to be my body. Because Donald Trump has been elected president, and he has made clearly discriminatory comments about racial, gender, and LGBT issues. Because he has rated women on appearances—1-10. Because I want to be seen as more than a pretty object. Because people are repeating him. Because the President of the United States has bragged about sexual assault, and has been accused of raping a thirteen-year-old girl. Because I am a thirteen-year-old girl, and I want to feel safe in my own country.
And so, I am scared.
Please remember that you are shaping this country for your children. And we care, and we are afraid for our futures. So the next time you talk about politics, include us in the conversation. Even though you are the ones making decisions in this world now, don’t forget to think about who will do so after you.
Because we are scared, and we want a world that will accept us for who we are.