Students speak up on guns, bathrooms at school board meeting
Dozens of students from around the Anchorage School District used their voices at Tuesday night's school board meeting to share their views on controversial issues surrounding our nation.
Students lobbied for the school board to oppose Proposition 1, the bathroom bill, on April's ballot.
"Not only will it affect transgender students by outing them to their peers and teachers," eighth-grader Rue Hedman said, "It will also force more harassment on them. If you think this does not apply to you because you don't have a transgender child, it still may."
Students told the board that the bathroom bill is more of an adult problem than a student problem.
"It is an adult issue-- especially when it came to the transgender-- because we are more accepting of ourselves-- especially in this day and age," high school senior Dieuleveut Biringanine said. "We are more accepting of transgenders, races and whatever, it's the older generation that has the problem because they were just not raised the same way we were."
ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop then addressed the crowd by saying it is against ordinance and statute for ASD employees to speak on political items, publicly representing their position.
"I can not request anyone to vote a certain way," Bishop said. "Our goal is to support children and that is what we will continue to do no matter how the vote turns out on Proposition 1. I can't imagine and we will not stand guard at our restroom doors. We are keeping student safety in mind. There is nothing in the budget that allows for anyone to play the role of law enforcement on a restroom."
Another topic among students was the gun control issue, one many feel is tricky to maneuver, especially in the state of Alaska.
"When it comes to gun control, it's really mixed emotions," Biringanine said. "Being in Alaska, it is a real controversial topic and kids are really strong on it because they are seeing kids their age dying. We're kind of helpless, it's like, are we next? We're kind of in the middle because we can't stand to see more 17- and 18-year-olds dying. At the same time, we live in a state where guns are really important to us."
Students do have a voice and the power to change the current laws and opinions of lawmakers. Most students don't know they have the right to speak their minds.
"I believe student voice is a really strong resource," student representative to the school board Kali Spencer said. "I don't know if students know they can access that. I believe this is one of the best stages to make your voice heard, because you are so young and because you are the up-and-coming generation. We can be the change people want to see."
Students at several local schools participated in walkouts Wednesday, marking one week since the deadly Florida school shootings. There is a national march on March 24, along with a nationwide walkout on April 20.
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