Monday, November 16, 2009

The Power Of A Ten Year Old: A GSA Monday Inspiration

I think a lot of the frustrating part about being a kid, and about being a Teen, is the sense of being disempowered.

There are all these HUGE issues going on in the world around you, and yet, what can you really do to help solve them? Adults rarely listen to kids, and all too often dismiss an idea not based on its merits, but instead on whose idea it is.

A great example of this is the study that showed a birds eye view of how people in a museum didn't walk from painting to painting, instead they walked from label to label. As if it were more important for them to know WHO painted it rather than WHAT they painted. They wanted to see if it was a Van Gogh, or a famous artist's work, rather than simply looking at each painting and judging it for themselves.

And on top of that frustration of feeling not heard, if you're under 18 you can't vote yet. For many Teens, and I remember this feeling vividly, it can feel like all you can do is wait until you're older until you can join in the game of life.

But that's completely bull-you-know-what.

Let's say you're 10 years old. You're in 5th grade. And you think it's unfair that Gay people don't have full legal equality in the USA.

You can't vote for Gay equality.

You don't really have your own money to donate to the fight for Gay equality.

What can you do?

Well, look at what Will Phillips is doing.

Will is 10 years old. In 5th grade. And he's refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag in school, as long as Gay people in the USA don't have legal equality. Here's what Will said in an interview:

"I really don't feel that there's currently liberty and justice for all."

People are talking about what Will is doing - and not just in West Fork, Arkansas. Will's stand has made people all over the country take another look at how our pledge's promise of

"...liberty and justice for all."

has not yet been delivered. That we GLBTQ Americans don't have liberty and justice for us.

Will's getting some flak for his stand, with students calling him names (including those that label him 'gay') but there are also a lot of people who are proud of him. Like me.

In fact, I'm completely inspired by him. And the power of a 10 year old.

I love this image, the American flag on the 41 cent stamp,
and how it says "USA First-Class."
Because when it comes to the Pledge of Allegiance,
when it comes to what our country stands for,
I don't think ANY American should be second-class.
I think we should ALL be First-Class Citizens.

Back in May I wrote about another kid who inspires me. Ethan is a 3rd grader who put together a rally of hundreds of people to support Gay marriage.

So Will took a personal stand.

Ethan organized a rally.

What are other ways kids and teens can harness their power to weigh in on the issues of our day? Leave your ideas and inspirations in comments!


fairyhedgehog said...

I'm so impressed. At his age I wouldn't have understood the issues and I would never have gone against my teachers, I was too scared of them.

Jodie said...

Ok so this is one of the few times I will say aww that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside about a small child. Rock on 10 year olds, I am so impressed and happy about this. I mean often I wonder what I can really do to help with social issues (other than give money so smarter people than me can get all the resources they need) what really makes an impact, but if a 10 year old can figure out a real strategy I should be able to.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

I got this message elsewhere on the blog today, and I thought it was awesome:

your recent posts made me think of an email exchange I had with my local radio station not too long ago, so I thought I'd share:
the first time I heard "Run This Town" by Jay-Z, Rhianna and Kanye West, I really liked it, except for the fact that they were saying "no homo," which surprised me, since the music they play always seems to be as clean as possible. I wrote them a message saying as much, and not long after, I heard them playing a new version, and got an email from them saying,"because of your email we were able to secure this cleaner version for all to enjoy!"
I was impressed: it may not be fixing the whole issue of the language in the song in general, but I was encouraged to see that they had taken notice, and taken action.

Great job!


MissA said...

I saw this on CNN this morning and I was so impressed, inspired and pleased!
Will is awesome. I don't think I would even have the courage to do.
As a teen, I often feel like I can't do anything, but then I go volunteer somewhere or challenge my religion teacher or classmates on the issues of GLBTQ people (especially on the marriage issue, I say you should be able to marry whoever you want, but oh the Church disagrees!)
And thanks for sharing that email. Ordinary people really can do extraordianry things and make change!

kittens not kids said...

Good for him - it looks like he has great people supporting him, too. I stopped standing for the pledge when I was about 16 or 17, for the same reason: the Defense of Marriage Act had recently been passed, and I was angry. Got yelled at by a few ill-informed teachers, but students have every right to refuse pledging allegiance (the 1940s Supreme Court case West Virginia vs. Barnett guarantees students this right).

I am really proud of this boy, and all the other kids like him who decide to take positive action for the LGBTQ cause.