Are the parents of those protesting girls at FHS doing them a huge disservice?
Fifty-nine years ago this week, on December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white passenger. Parks’ protest sparked a chain of events that eventually led to the end of racial segregation. That day would later be included in the list of days that changed history.
For Parks’ decision though, the immediate consequence was her arrest. That’s the way protests go. They can lead to progressive change, and often do, whether it is a protest over racial discrimination, unsafe work conditions, social injustice or whatever, often those partaking realize there may, and most likely will be, a price to pay, and they make the conscious decision that on balance, it is worth it.
With this backdrop, flash ahead to today and the protest over the dress code and the absence of a sexual harassment policy at Fredericton High School. I hesitate to compare this with Rosa Parks, but not every protest is world changing, but in the world of these female students, apparently it’s a big deal.
So power to them for standing up for what they see as a discriminatory policy. As is often the case in these things, the original purpose gets lost amid the over-the-top rhetoric including, in this case, the suggestion that with the dress code the school administration is nurturing a rape culture. But that’s beside the point.
What these students have yet to learn from history is that change doesn’t come easy, and those who lead the fight for change pay a price.
In this case, that price is suspensions and banishment from extra-curricular activities. But while it is under review, it is the consequence the people in charge decided on. And just as it was the student’s decision to protest, it is the administrations’ decision how they respond to it.
I would have a lot more respect for the students if they either accepted what was doled out, or protested further that the punishment is out of proportion. They would probably find public support for that because it does look like the administration over-reacted.
But at least it would be them making those decisions. But instead, it has boiled down to their parents fighting their battles for them.
So we have students, in challenging the administration over what they perceive as an unfair policy, acting like mature adults in protesting it. But when the going gets a bit tough, they retreat like children, cry about the consequences of their actions and get mom and dad to take up the fight. Or maybe it is the parents injecting themselves into the battle.
Either way, what does this teach these students about dealing with life in the real world? That if they face something that is unfair, that their parents will be there to look after it for them?
I just listened to one of these parents on CBC radio who did just that. She said she hopes more parents would get involved. Not that the students themselves would make their case, but that more parents would get involved.
We keep hearing from experts that we have a generation of young people who are incapable of dealing with adversity or failure because they have never had to.
When I was in junior high, someone did something and the teacher in the classroom said that unless whoever did it confesses, all the boys will be punished. Can’t remember what it was but the teacher determined a male was at fault. The apparent discrimination of that aside, we were given a choice of getting the strap or staying after school every day for a week.
The discussion at home, and I expect in many homes, was around what we were going to do about it, emphasis on the “we”? No one’s parents got involved. No mom or dad went to the school to challenge the principal or the teacher. It was our problem and it was up to us to figure out how to deal with it.
A few years later, in high school, one day just about the whole school walked out to protest a decision that there would be no more school dances. I can’t remember what triggered that decision or how the whole thing played out, but again, it was our issue to deal with, and no ones parents got involved.
Times have changed. It is debatable but has it reallly been for the better?
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