October 12, 2018; Teen Vogue
For the past couple of years, Teen Vogue has been drawing media attention from some unexpected sources in response to its expanded political focus. In a recent series called “Civil Discourse 101,” the publication devotes space to questions from young activists and provides responses from staff members at Amnesty International USA.
The most recent such post focuses on school protests and whether students have the right to join a protest at a school if it is not during school hours. The response from Selena J. Gomez of Amnesty International USA is serious and comprehensive.
Gomez begins with the important point that “students are not simply the future politicians, advocates, and activists of tomorrow,” but “the leaders of today, which is why they should be well informed on these kinds of issues.”
In her carefully crafted answer, Gomez explains that students do have the right to protest at school, both as a human right and as a legal right. To back that, Gomez draws on Articles 19 and 20 of the United Declaration of Human Rights to underscore the inherent right to peaceful protest granted to every human being since 1948 when the United National General Assembly approved it. She adds that in the US, the ACLU provides a legal framework for students protesting at public schools, in keeping with their First Amendment rights under the US Constitution. She also cites the landmark 1969 Tinker v. Independent Community School District case, in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of student expression, and provides a link to the ACLU’s guide for students on this topic.
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Gomez adds some helpful follow-up suggestions for students who might be new to a particular cause and in need of guidelines. She recommends three essential questions:
- “Why am I protesting in the first place?”
- “What do I hope to gain from this action?”
- “How far am I willing to go for the causes I believe in?”
In a recent New York Times op-ed, Emma Gonzalez, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and an activist on gun reform, offers eloquent advice on this important topic.
While Teen Vogue is looking to the future with this focus on youth activists, it is also looking to the past, running concurrent essays on Jovita Idar, a Mexican-American journalist and education activist in the early 20th century, and the 1940s school segregation case in California Mendez v. Westminster. These stories are valuable additions to US History, and Teen Vogue is playing an important role in broadening the context of activism over time.
Teen Vogue’s efforts in engaging young people with news and politics coverage are worth keeping an eye on, particularly with midterm elections around the corner. Their newsletter signup form requires a birthday and year, a slightly awkward added step for non-teenager readers, but one that is still worth taking in order to follow their work.—Anne Eigeman