Opinion: Civic participation requires civility


Adults have high expectations for teenagers. We are constantly told to respect authority, speak when it’s our turn and be educated when we do speak. I understand why we’re taught this. If adults did this, things would be a lot easier. On Monday night, the Bellevue Public Schools’ school board meeting disappointed me.

The November meeting started like any other. First was the pledge, then some test score statistics and, of course, some money-talk. However, when the topic of the district’s new transgender regulation came up, the adults around me turned into tantrum-throwing 5 year-olds.

There was shouting, interrupting, and worst of all, there was ignorance. The grown men and women speaking on the subject had obviously not read the regulation, nor did they understand the difference between a regulation and a policy. It was frustrating to say the least.

To formally speak at a school board meeting, someone needs to sign up ahead of time. However, at this meeting, I heard multiple questions and statements shouted out from behind me.

“How long does someone have to be a trans-sexual before they can use a different bathroom?”

The answer to this is clearly stated in the regulation. A transgender student must go to the administration and set up a plan that takes extensive work. They are then not allowed to “switch back and forth,” between bathrooms.

“We are the taxpayers, we pay you.”

The school board is actually a group of volunteers, and they aren’t paid, although they are elected.

“How about we just recall your guys’ jobs?”

The speaker said this out of anger. It was whiny and uncalled for.

As a teenager, I know that I don’t know everything. I keep quiet about what I don’t understand because that’s what I’ve been told to do. The adults in our community need to do the same.

At the meeting, I was upset. It shocked me that people I am used to looking up to acted in a way I knew was wrong. I saw that some adults do not hold themselves to the standards that they hold to my peers and myself. I expected better from them.

There’s another board meeting where this issue is scheduled to be discussed next month. I’m planning on going, but I’m preparing myself for the ignorance and immaturity that I am sure to see. I shouldn’t have to, though.

I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed.

Em Brandon