There are many students and youth who have increasingly become interested in politics and social issues. Many have already created a voice for themselves and are considered youth advocates. Even if they don’t label themselves as advocates, students have claimed an opinion on social issues, have taken political sides, and are discussing these things amongst their peers. One of the topics that comes up frequently is equality. What is equality? High schoolers shared what it means and how inclusion is important to them.
Equality for Men and Women
Men are treated as the tougher sex while women are treated as the sensitive sex. Women get time off after pregnancy, men are more likely to get certain career positions. Women are helped out more when in need, but men have to fend for themselves. “I think we should all help each other," the student said. The problem is with society and the way the world has taught everyone men and women should be. “But that definition doesn’t describe me. It doesn’t describe my boyfriend." Equality and inclusion means having the opportunity to be understood and accepted as an individual and not judged or generalized based off the inaccurate teachings of our youth. Some men cry, some women are athletes. You can’t generalize such a diverse group of people. Everyone is different and what works for someone doesn’t always work for the other. “That’s why some people are great in school and others aren’t. We all learn differently. Expecting all of us to do similar things is just asking for failure and a lack of uniqueness."
Equality for race
“I was saw a post on Instagram about two kids that got the same haircut so they could look the same and trick their teacher. One boy was African American and the other was white. I want to live in a society like that where people don’t see me for my skin. You may be brown, I may be black, but that shouldn’t matter." He wants equality regardless of appearance. He wants equal opportunities for everyone, in regards to relationships, careers, politics, etc. “But it goes both ways." He expressed how upset he was that so many African American people voted for Barack Obama simply because of his race. “It’s not okay that people thought he would represent a minority better just because he’s black. He failed the black community, and the man everyone calls a racist (referring to Trump) has done more for the black community than anyone else." He wants inclusion to be synonymous with equal opportunity.
Equality for Christians
It is not a topic that is widely discussed, but as the nation's mind progressively leans left, it makes it hard for people’s religions to be accepted in a society that disagrees. People chant “equality for all," but this student doesn’t feel there is equality for her because of her religious foundation. She is often seen as a threat to liberals. She is labeled intolerant without being given the chance to show her nature and personality. She is not a radical, Westboro Baptist-type Christian. She wants to love, understand, and be compassionate towards others. “That’s what real Christianity is about, but it’s the rude, screaming, unkind protesters that people think of when they hear Christianity. Just like literally anything else, you can’t just judge someone. You can’t graft them in with what the media portrays as true." Inclusion for her means being able to socialize and have a conversation about heavy subjects without being shut down. She wants to be heard, understood, and just relate to people without being judged.
Equality for Men
This student had a lot to say about equality for men. Equality is often grouped with the term “feminism," but this student disagrees. “If feminism was only about equality, I would totally be wearing a ‘feminist as, uh, heck’ hat." He expressed his sadness at how men have been treated and outcasted from the feminist movement. Not that men can’t be feminists, but feminism has become progressively anti-men. He mentioned that men can be fired just by having been accused of sexual abuse, regardless of whether that abuse happened. He is, of course, aware and saddened by the realities of abuse for women. That, and other social issues, is the reason why he wants to become a defense attorney. However, the answer to this injustice isn’t to be unfair to men. He wants women and men to unite for a better world. It’s the only way.
Equality is About Equality on One Side to Even Out the Scale
This high schooler suggests that men are privileged. The fight for equality needs to raise women up only so that they are on equal levels to men. In doing this, both parties will have equal chances at being “privileged," thus extinguishing privilege. Sounds a lot like Syndrone’s “and if everyone’s a super, no one is" statement in the Incredibles movie. If the playing field is evened out, then no one will really be privileged. We would all have the same chances of succeeding or failing. We have the same abilities to thrive in a difficult career without the fear of harassment or getting fired for being “too pretty." People won’t have their names blemished for accusations that may not have a factual basis.
All of the high school students could agree on the idea that there is a fracture in society. What that means personally and the way in which it should be resolved differed from student to student. As one student pointed out, the focus of equality may look different per person, but the term equality is universal. They all agreed that there are many prejudices, judgements, and presuppositions that are innate in our society and culture, which need to be broken down if we’re expected to change.