Opinion: Youth voices matter
The value of someone’s opinion should not be determined by their age.
January 20, 2021
Although the 2020 Presidential Election has passed, youth’s political climate is still heated as many students, and young adults continue to fight passionately for their values and beliefs. Whether it is launching a campaign to combat climate change on social media or attending marches to fight racism, Gen Z is constantly searching for ways to make their voices heard. Despite this dedication and persistence in fighting for political issues, the older generations are still dismissive of Gen Z’s opinions and activism. In their eyes, our generation is seen as too inexperienced for our activism to have any value. It is time that people start taking youth voices more seriously.
In a country where the average age of a House member is 57 and the average age of a Senate member is 61, it is no surprise that young people are craving a louder voice in politics. For decades older generations have been making decisions for the young’s future without even listening to their opinions. Youth voices at least should be considered when it comes to legislation on climate change or social justice issues. The age of someone should not determine the value of their opinions.
This is not to say that older generations are not qualified to make decisions; I understand that they have more life experience and possess a more rounded understanding of the world. Instead, I ask that they at least take the time to consider what our generation wants for the future. After all, it is important to consider different perspectives when drafting legislation on issues that affect people of all ages.
In addition to the national level, youth voices should also be allowed to play a more significant role in our local communities. They should be respected once those opportunities are granted. In other words, we need our voices to be taken more seriously when we speak in city council meetings and school board meetings because often, our voices are dismissed.
In fact, during the SDUHSD school board meeting on Dec. 15, board Trustee Michael Allman said that the value student representatives brought regarding the discussion of reopening schools was “very near zero.” This is just another example of how older generations brush off youth voices in the decision-making process. Although Allman later apologized for his statement, there remains the underlying issue of adults’ knee-jerk reaction to ignore the youth population’s voices and opinions. We need to know that we are actually being heard and taken seriously because our voices matter, especially when it is about something that directly affects our lives.
People need to acknowledge and respect our activism. While youth voices should not outweigh the older generations’, they should be allowed to have a place in the discussion. After all, the long-term effects of the decisions made by politicians are seen by the youth.