Last spring, The Nation launched its biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts first-person updates on student and youth organizing. For recent dispatches, check out May 19 and June 3. For an archive of earlier editions, see the New Year’s dispatch. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with tips. Edited by James Cersonsky (@cersonsky).
1. After Westboro Baptists Show Up, 1,000 Mass at Wilson High
On Monday, June 9, more than 1,000 students and community members from DC, Maryland and Virginia gathered in front of Woodrow Wilson High School to hold a counter-protest to the Westboro Baptist Church, which was picketing the school community’s accepting attitude at annual pride day. During our second pride day, our principal came out as gay. In front of the school, ten student leaders from Genders-Sexualities Aligned, or GSA, and the school’s student government led the group in a series of “pro-love” and “pro-equality” chants during the counter-protest; Westboro members protested on the opposite side of the building and received little media or civilian attention. The action sparked a huge outpouring of support from the community, including more than $500 raised for a local organization focused on supporting local GSAs and SMYAL.
—Aidan Parisi and Tao Marwell
2. After Four Years of Silence, Twenty-One Get Arrested for Mass Transit
On the morning of June 9, the Youth Affordability Coalition held an Oppotuni(T) sit-in at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Building. This sit-in was part of an ongoing effort to demand a Youth Pass, which would give youth from ages 12–21 transportation for $10 every month. We were promised to pilot a version of the Youth Pass by Richard Davey, Massachusetts secretary of transportation, four years ago, and officials have made ongoing commitments to us—but have never delivered. During the sit-in, hundreds of YAC members and supporters held a rally and vigil. At 7 pm, after three warnings by state police, twenty-one people were arrested for trespassing. On June 12, the YAC 21 were found not guilty—but still owe legal fees and fines, for which we are fundraising. YAC will continue pressuring Secretary Davey and Governor Patrick for affordable transportation.