Is this truly the world that we’re inheriting?


Valley News Live

Me and my friends featured on a Valley News Live Broadcast about the pro-choice protests June 2022

I can’t believe Junior year is almost over. I still feel like a Freshman sometimes, and I can’t wait to be a Senior. The fact that I’ll be 18 in a matter of months is crazy. I can finally vote in the next election! (But so can my peers, so I’m not sure how I feel about that.)
I have no idea what I want to do with my life, or where I want to go, and that’s okay. We have nothing but time to make these decisions and live our lives to the fullest. To quote one of the best movies ever, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” “The world is wide, and I wanna make some memories.” The world is out there waiting for us.
But is it really? Our time on Earth might not be unlimited after all. With the state of the world– I know we all hate that phrase, but we have to be real. The world is going in a new direction, fast. America has reached a clear divide. Hate crimes are on the rise, we’re storming the Capitol, and a disturbing new headline pops up seemingly every day.
Here in North Dakota, an astonishing number of ridiculous bills have passed. These bills do nothing helpful or productive. They are aimed to hurt and discriminate against people. I know many of us have strong opinions, but there has to be a middle ground somewhere that truly focuses on improving our society. We should be focusing on how to save the environment and advancing technology and medicine, not what’s in someone’s pants. It seems many Americans have a serious case of ‘not minding their own business.’
I know ND is a conservative state, but this year was truly surprising. This latest round of legislation passed bills to prevent trans athletes from competing in sports, not increase school lunch relief, and allow more guns on school campuses.
A group of bills passed to effectively ban trans athletes—but specifically trans women—from competing in sports starting in Kindergarten and going all the way to the college level. This bill is vague and doesn’t mention hormone levels, which I think is their real concern, as that could affect one’s performance. But trans athletes on hormones may have more balanced levels than a cis athlete, so that way of measuring comes with its faults too.
A new headline hit the news recently about a 54-year-old trans woman who ran in the London Marathon. A FOX News headline read “Trans runner beats 14k women in London Marathon,” and another said “‘Wrong and unfair: Two-time Olympian fumes as trans marathon runner beats 14,000 women.” Now that’s a powerful statement, especially for those who already are unjustly afraid of trans athletes beating out cis athletes.
When the news broke, and she received floods of harassment, she offered to return her medal. In reality, said runner, Glenique Frank, placed 6,159th and earned a participation medal. Matt Berstein, or mattxiv on Instagram, shared this story and asked “is this really news, or just a desperate attempt to stir up transphobia and boost ratings?” How is a runner who placed 6,156th newsworthy? He makes a good point; “if this is meant to represent the dangers of trans people in sport, then how big of an issue is it really?”
It’s mind-boggling that our legislators pass bills like these in an effort to “protect women” when just last summer they took away the right to full autonomy in women’s healthcare. So they can deny healthcare, but they draw the line at trans athletes competing in sports? How does that makes sense?
Another possibility is that this issue is facing is the fact that the predominately male legislators of North Dakota enjoy discriminating against women. This theory seems more plausible, and follows the trend of the passing legislation. Women have historically been suppressed, why not continue?
Our legislators don’t stop at failing to help women, why not children too? One failed bill would grant the superintendent of public instruction $6,000,000, or less if unnecessary. This money would be used “for the purpose of providing grants to school districts to defray the expenses of providing meals, free of charge, for all students at or below two hundred percent of federal poverty level.” This would apply to students enrolled in both public and private schools. This bill was rejected, and then when a motion was made to reconsider, that failed too. Interestingly, only ten days after this bill failed, Senate bill 2124 passed, which increased all state employees’ meal reimbursements by up to 29%.
This money serves no other purpose. It was extra money in the state treasury. They did, however, have the decency to pass a bill that prohibits the schools or any staff member to discriminate in any way against a child with school lunch debt. This prevents things like withholding lunch, making them work off their debt, and prohibiting their involvement in any school activities, which is a great way to relieve the worry from kids.
Nowadays, kids have something bigger to worry about. As you all well know, the number of school shootings is insane. At several points throughout 2023, there have been more school shootings than days in the year. That is absolutely unacceptable. How many more children have to die before we see some real action? Not thoughts and prayers, but stricter legislation and gun control.
Now, gun control has been a hot topic for years now. The loudest argument against it is “It’s my second amendment right!” Although this is true, this document was written in a very different time, when the most dangerous or deadly gun was a pistol and dueling was popular. In the twenty-first century, I’m glad we’re past dueling with pistols, but I didn’t think we’d move onto shooting up schools.
I know it’s a scary buzzword, but at this point we need it. I think we can all sacrifice a little bit of “freedom” in order to save countless lives. Now, I say freedom in quotes because really, it shouldn’t affect the everyday person very much. Unless of course you feel the need to own several assault rifles. Which is crazy. A handgun or something similar for self-defense is more reasonable, but no one needs an assault rifle. Especially not when their most popular use is obliterating children.
North Dakota Legislatures passed a bill providing a larger fund for increasing school security. This money can go towards anything from better background checks to arming teachers. With all the harassment and misconduct scandals state-wide in the last few years, I don’t think better background checks would hurt. In fact, I think we need them. However, nothing would make me feel less safe than an armed teacher.
On a daily basis, I feel it’s safe to assume there are no guns on school campuses, except maybe one with the SRO. If suddenly several teachers are walking around with hand-guns, this is no longer a safe assumption. I think adding more guns to the classroom is a giant leap in the wrong direction. Adding more guns to the equation will not result in less gun violence.
At this point it feels like our legislators are working against us. We have money for guns but not for food? Howerver, despite this bleak round of legislation, we received some good news on a bigger scale. Donald Trump was finally found responsible for sexually harassing and defaming E. Jean Carroll. One down, was it 28 to go?
Though it was in a civil court, and Trump can still run for president, it feels like a huge win personally. Trump has had many, many, sexual assault and rape allegations going back for years, since before he was even on the nation’s radar.
There was truly a shift in America when Trump was elected. There had been corrupt politicians before, but never this public and this abrasive. So it was a small win for assault victims everywhere that Trump is finally facing some consequences. So, at least there’s a small rainbow after the storm. There’s still hope for our future.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll keep fighting as long as my rights are in jeopardy, but it would be nice not to fight. I hope for a future where everyone can be themselves and co-exist peacefully. A world where we can all enjoy the life we choose to lead, with an equal opportunity for education, success, and a chance to be truly happy.