Our View: The First Amendment applies to young people, too

Oakland Education Center visit on Valentine's Day
Oakland Education Center students put together vases of carnations to deliver to residents at the St. Mark’s Living senior campus on Valentine’s Day. The flowers were donated by Austin’s Hy-Vee.

Some say young people shouldn’t be getting involved in protests and political action, whether regarding gun laws or other issues.

We say, really? Do young people have fewer rights than adults? Are your First Amendment rights pro-rated depending on your age? Obviously not. As with anyone else’s point of view, you can evaluate their opinion and take it or leave it. But it’s their opinion and it must be respected, not devalued because of age or disparaged as the result of parental manipulation.

As we’re learning daily as more comes out on how Facebook and other social media have been used to exploit Americans’ political differences, the political opinions of adults are just as vulnerable to manipulation as those of young people.

The Rochester students who have been working on eliminating gender-biased language in the city charter deserve all thumbs up for what they’ve accomplished and for the attention they’ve drawn to the issue. We’ll chalk up the City Council action Monday, where a motion to replace language regarding gender neutrality failed, due to a misstep by one council member. The council will fix that next month.

Here are hearty fist bumps to Martha Burkett, Leah Folpe, Alina Hyder, Martha Burkettand the other students involved in the charter rewrite. Keep working for what you believe in. Also give credit to the city attorney’s office and those elected officials who correctly identified this for what it is — an important step forward.


Spreading the love

Speaking of young people who are doing good, here’s to the students who spread good cheer, flowers and smiles at St. Mark’s Living, the senior campus in Austin, on Valentine’s Day. Helped out by a donation of carnations from Hy-Vee, the students surprised and spent time with residents, making the day special and also learning about caring and compassion themselves.

Justin Steckman, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Oakland Education Center, told the Post Bulletin, "It’s nice to learn about people’s pasts. It’s not often they get this much attention, and it’s good to see all the smiles on their faces."

Hats off to Becky Gerdes, an instructional coach at Oakland, the alternative school formed by the Austin and Albert Lea school districts, and Jessica Conway, the school’s life enrichment director, who were among those who made the visit happen.

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