Christina Neuner and her daughter Molly were inspired by the thousands of protesters of all generations at the March for Our Lives in their home city of Portland, Maine, on Saturday.
Molly, a 12-year-old in the seventh grade, told Yahoo News that the way kids are protesting is important — they aren’t being rude about it.
“They’re getting their message across very kindly and very respectfully, but also very assertive, like, ‘This is what we need and this is a change that we need to make, and here’s how we can do it,’” she said.
Molly said she’s been politically active ever since April 2017, when she challenged a dress code at King Middle School that she considered sexist. She was reprimanded for wearing a spaghetti-strap top to class, so she returned to school two days later with “#IAmNotADistraction” written on her arm. The story went viral and was covered in the national press.
Her mother, Christina Neuner, 39, said that incident caused many mothers in their community to speak out against the policy and take a stand. She similarly felt inspired, she said, by seeing all the young people protesting gun violence on Saturday. It was Neuner’s first protest.
“They’re kind of encouraging us to stand up and stand out. We were kind of the generation of ‘just keep quiet; keep the peace,’ and our kids are really bringing that out and teaching us that it’s OK,” she told Yahoo News.
Neuner said that Molly learned so much about herself from the dress-code experience — perseverance, self-assurance — and thinks the March for Our Lives demonstrations will do the same for many more children.
“These kids are seeing that their voices count and matter. Kids did this. I think this is going to give them so much confidence,” she said.
Despite the fact that the protests were organized by kids, Neuner said, she was touched by the wide age range of people participating in the march, including baby boomers. She heard one of her friend’s daughters suggest that the older generation was there because they love their grandchildren and want to protect them.
Neuner said, “Yeah, but what you haven’t realized or learned in school yet is that they’re kind of the original protesters. They spent their earlier years as protesters. Now here they are stepping up for you again.”
Read more from Yahoo News: