In May, eighth-graders from South Orange Middle School, New Jersey, got the opportunity to meet House Speaker Paul Ryan and click a photo with him on a school trip to Washington, D.C. However, in a surprising turn of events, around 100 of these students refused to take a picture with the politician and instead sat in a parking lot across the street. Speaker Ryan was left with no choice but to take a photo with the remaining class, which he posted to Instagram.
Many people soon labeled the students “brats” and said they had been “brainwashed” against the speaker.
But now one of the eight-graders Jordan McCray-Robinson has stepped forward and penned an op-ed for a local newspaper, The Village Green.
“I decided not to take the picture as did many others of my grade. I decided I wasn’t going to be used as a publicity stunt,” the first paragraph of the op-ed states.
“I am here to tell the nation that although we’re only in the 8th grade, we have our own thoughts and opinions. My teachers did not influence my decision not to take a picture with Mr. Ryan. I decided I didn’t want to take a picture with someone who doesn’t have my best interests in mind. Mr. Ryan and the administration want to cut health care for 23 million people,” it went on.
Robinson also spoke to some of her fellow students and wrote about their feelings regarding the incident.
“I think it’s more than just a picture, If I was in the picture I would feel like a hypocrite due to the fact of his anti LGBTQ+ rules, as a member of the community I felt like I would be betraying myself,” said Livvy Krakower, a member of the LGBTQ community.
"I think it’s not only rude, but ignorant to tell a 14-year-old that they’re not entitled to an opinion because 'kids have no experience in the real world, so who should care about what they think or say,'” the student wrote on.
You can read the entire op-ed here.