Every four years, the American presidential election occurs which allows teenagers the opportunity to form their own political beliefs and engage in relevant political discussion with their peers at school. This experience can often be a positive one for high school students, as they are exposed to a variety of political beliefs and important issues often for the first time in their life.
Unfortunately, this year’s primary season is having a negative effect on many high school students due to the hateful rhetoric surrounding it. It is creating an alarming feeling of hate and anxiety both within school walls and on social media, largely inspired by hateful messages which are becoming increasingly popular.
Candidates like Donald Trump have been firing a spew of hate speech targeting minorities across the campaign trail, creating an extremely divided country. Trump’s lack of “political correctness” has appealed to many Americans through his attacks ranging from Latinos to Muslims in America, allowing him to become the Republican party’s front-runner and amassing major media attention.
The openly-hateful rhetoric of Trump is persuading many teenagers, who idolize the famous business-man turned politician, to target and discriminate against students who are of color, of a minority religious group or are LGBT. The candidate’s popular hate speech is inspiring many students to attack their peers verbally in the school or online through social media platforms, as Trump often does. Trump’s support of violence against protesters, who are often minorities, has spurred a targeted wave of aggression against targeted groups within the school environment.
A seemingly harmless game of Indiana high school basketball quickly went awry when Trump’s hateful message was used to target the opposing team. Students from Andrean High School in Merrillville, Indiana were displaying openly racist signs and chanting “build that wall!” to create a hateful environment for the largely hispanic team of Bishop Noll Institute from the nearby town of Hammond. This targeted harassment of hispanic students due to the popular candidate is extremely harmful, as minority students weren’t even able to participate in sports without being attacked by a hateful agenda.
Similarly, another hateful attack arising from this year’s election has been ongoing at my own school, Penn High School, in Mishawaka, Indiana which is a little more than an hour drive from Andrean High School. Our school’s GSA club was faced with heated controversy after hanging pro-LGBT posters around the school that got purposely torn down, which were approved by our school administration. Following this, our school’s heavily pro-trump Republican club was formed, who have made LGBT students and other minorities like Islamic students feel targeted from it’s beginnings.
The group has tweeted articles attacking transgender people by accusing them of having a twisted ‘LGBT’ agenda and retweeting #stopislam, creating outcries on social media and a unwelcoming environment for many students. Bragging about their club’s vast influence on the school by claiming they are making the school great again, a spin-off of Trump’s infamous campaign slogan. Recently, the club mocked the GSA club’s decoration of the school mascot for the GLSEN Day of Silence and discredited the club’s tireless work by suddenly asking for permission to redecorate the mascot after only two days of the display being up. The tension created by the hateful pro-Trump group has left many minority students fearing for their safety and well-being at school.
Together, the youth of America must stand up against the hateful Trump-inspired rhetoric that is occurring in schools across the country. We must not allow our generation to be divided by hate, as we are the future of America who must learn to be tolerant of each other despite our differences. We must not stay silent when minorities are targeted, as all members of our generation deserve to feel comfortable in their own skin. We must not allow the hate speech of candidates to carry into our schools, as no student should feel oppression within their school environment. Trump’s hateful rhetoric is toxic to our generation and cannot continue to persist within our schools.