Las Vegas Sun

April 23, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

Agreement uncommon on issues of civil liberty

More than 950 students from 45 high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 52nd annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 20. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A student was chosen from each group to write a column about the students' findings. Brittany Willis of Canyon Springs High School writes about issues covered by her group.

Forty high school students plus topics that could press anyones button equal a very compelling discussion. At this years 2007 Sun Youth Forum I had the chance to be part of such an exchange.

Our group covered multiple topics, and after the discussion kicked off, it moved fast.

We started with a heavy topic, gay marriage. In a snap, I knew my answer gays have rights just like everyone else.

The group suddenly was split in half, agreeing and disagreeing. Adoption led the conversation further we talked about whether homosexual families are just as fit as heterosexual families to adopt. My question was, why wouldnt they be? Many of my peers agreed that gays and lesbians are no different, especially in this day and age, but others believed it could become a problem in the childs life. Students surmised that having such parents could lead to violent behavior, rebellion and psychological problems. This discussion sure helped me realize the range of feelings on the issue.

With the next topic, government welfare programs, I noticed different opinions. Of course some members of my group said we should do more for people on assistance. But other members pointed to the negative side of welfare and gave many reasons why they opposed it.

Many points against were based on welfare eligibility and people on welfare who dont seem to try hard to find work. Is it true that people on welfare have the easy life? Is it true there are people on welfare who shouldnt be? Students answered my questions with a yes.

But what proof do we have? Can we know whether welfare recipients have an easier life? I say no. Many are quick to judge without all the information.

English as our language was our next topic. Should it be our official language? It isnt yet, but that option was discussed.

Should we force immigrants to learn English? Students raised their hands in a frenzy with various answers.

Some exclaimed that not having English as our dominant language could lead to problems. Some asked how younger students could possibly find teachers to translate when there is already a shortage.

But isnt this America? People should be able to speak their own language; this is the land of the free. Students opinions were strong when it came to trying to resolve this topic.

Members of my group desire to change our world: respecting one another, respecting adults, and being the best we can be. Becoming leaders is an amazing thing we can do to easily show younger generations how to act. Having dignity and class is very much needed.

Many bright minds tried to find agreement on difficult questions. This forum gave me a new outlook on life. I learned so much from these brilliant students. Furthering my knowledge and learning from others, the Sun Youth Forum was an event that shall be remembered.

Brittany Willis is a senior at Canyon Springs whose gourp covered the topic of Potpourri.