I’m a millennial faculty member. The millennial generation – also known as Generation Y – came of age with 9/11, followed by the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then the 2007/8 financial crisis. While we were growing up, promises of perpetual progress and prosperity abounded. However, as we entered adulthood, we confronted the harmful realities and precarious nature of the prevailing social and economic system. It became clear to many of us that these were not only false promises but they also came at a high cost. Yet when we expressed our disillusionment, some from previous generations suggested our generation was the problem, not the system itself.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a lawsuit challenging Washington state's ban on the harmful practice of so-called "conversion therapy" for minors, a move welcomed by LGBTQ+ rights advocates. The nation's highest court rejected an appeal from Washington, where the 2018 law prohibiting therapists from attempting to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity has been upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Although right-wing Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas dissented, their votes fell one shy of the four needed to get the case on the court's shortlist for full review.
There was a lot of screaming and shouting at the Rally to End Child Mutilation, hosted in October 2022 in Nashville, Tenn., by right-wing podcaster Matt Walsh, who has said he would “rather be dead” than have a transgender child. Compared with the noisy attendees, the Proud Boys were relatively quiet. Escorted by police amid a crowd of hundreds outside the Tennessee state house, the black-and-yellow-clad men stood arms akimbo, their tactical cargo pants bloused over their boots, their silent presence an implied threat of enforcement for what the rest of the rally’s speakers said.
Parents of more than 100 trans and gender-expansive children are urging lawmakers to turn their back on the “dangerous and misguided” Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) currently winding its way through Congress. In a fiery open letter shared with Gizmodo, the parents said KOSA, which is intended to shield kids from the harms of social media, would actually make their kids less safe and cut them off from potentially lifesaving resources and communities. “Big Tech is hurting our kids,” they added. “KOSA would hurt them even more.” Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and President Biden himself have rallied around KOSA in recent months as a potential saving grace in response to a steady stream of reports showing various ways Big Tech platforms can harm young users and contribute to a worrying rise in depression and anxiety.
From 1930 through the middle of the last century, the mortality rate in the United States was lower or commensurate with the mortality rates of other wealthy nations, such as Canada, France and Britain. However, in the late 1970s through the 1980s, U.S. health outcomes and mortality rates began to diverge from those of its peers. By 2021, about half of all U.S. deaths under the age of 65 would have been avoided if the U.S. mortality rates were on par with those of other countries, according to a new study published by the National Academy of Sciences. In other words, on average one out of every two deaths under the age of 65 in the U.S. would be averted in countries like Australia, Germany, Japan or Portugal.
Earlier this year, Washington lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow for post-conviction review for incarcerated people serving long sentences for crimes they were convicted of while under the age of 25. Washington’s Senate Bill 5451, locally known as the Emerging Adults Bill, would extend an already existing parole law that offers review for those convicted of crimes committed while under the age of 18. Many recent studies have shown that the prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain responsible for decision-making and impulse control—continues to develop in most human beings past age 18.
Climate change education has been caught in the crossfire of the culture wars. While some U.S. states are boosting climate literacy, others are effectively miseducating children by depriving them of the skills they’ll need to face the biggest challenge of their generation. Studies show that climate education can help inspire kids to become more resilient, teach them about climate solutions, and prepare them to take jobs in the flourishing clean energy economy ― all while reducing climate anxiety and the carbon footprint of schools. Perhaps more importantly, advocates say that climate education has a positive ripple effect in local communities and across generations.
In this season of parent-celebrating days, many of the parents making top headlines are those pushing violent agendas under the mantle of “parents’ rights.” Deep-pocketed groups like Moms for Liberty and Parents Defending Education are asserting the rights of parents as a justification for their right-wing, anti-trans, anti-Black, anti-immigrant, ableist onslaught. The Republican “Parents Bill of Rights Act” that passed the House this spring combines an attack on students’ right to gender self-expression with measures targeting curricula and libraries. As Amy Nagopaleen wrote for Truthout, the bill (which, thankfully, is unlikely to advance in the Senate) had “nothing to do with empowering parents, and everything to do with bringing the mounting Republican moral panic over schools to the national stage.”
After more than 20 years of losing wars, recruiting for the U.S. Army is now officially a mess. Last year, that service fell short of its goal by 15,000 recruits, or a quarter of its target. Despite reports of better numbers in the first months of this year, Army officials doubt they will achieve their objective this time around either. The commanding general at Fort Jackson, the South Carolina facility that provides basic training to 50% of all new members of the Army, called the recruiting command’s task the hardest since the all-volunteer military was launched in 1973. The Army’s leaders were alarmed enough to make available up to $1.2 billion for recruitment incentives and related initiatives.
To the organizers of yesterday’s march, and to trans youth everywhere: thank you for fighting. No one should have to fight for their very existence, but your example reminds us that there is a joyous, expansive range of human experience that capitalism tries to erase and forget. Your example shows us that there is beauty to be found everywhere and in every moment of the struggle for a better world. We find in your combative example the spirit of the world we will build—free of every oppression. We also thank our trans and queer elders. It’s an incredible thing to have lived in a world so pitted against your very existence for years or decades and still love that world enough to give of yourself for its betterment.
In the drizzling rain, I yank up the military recruitment sign and throw it into the tall grasses on the side of the road. If anyone asks, I didn’t “destroy” government property. I merely relocated it. Think of me like a windstorm. A peace-loving, nonviolent windstorm countering military recruitment. Who knows how many lives I saved with this simple action? Perhaps it saved the teens that were considering enlisting as they rode the school bus past these signs twice a day. Perhaps it will help some innocent civilians overseas who so often bear the brunt of our nation’s addiction to war. Maybe it will slow down the profiteering warmongering of military industrial complex to realize they can’t count on enlistment rates. The military recruitment sign was one of two shoved into the sides of the main road in my rural community.
Cuba held elections for its organs of local government, the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power, on November 27. A delegation of youth from the United States observed the vote first-hand as part of the US-Cuba Youth Friendship Meeting. Coming from the fundamentally undemocratic US Empire, it was the first time that many participants saw a functional electoral system in which the masses actually participate, and in which the majority truly rules. We observed voting in La Corbata, a neighborhood in La Habana currently undergoing transformation. The polling site was inside a newly constructed cultural-technological center, which also houses arts programs, classes, a computer lab, school graduations, and community events. At first arrival, we were surprised by how efficiently the voting process moved.
It's fun, it's green and it's becoming more popular by the day. Barcelona's bike bus, or "bicibus", as the scheme is known locally, allows hundreds of children to cycle safely to school in a convoy, taking over entire streets in Spain's second largest city. The citizen-led project, supported by Barcelona City Council, began in March 2021 with one route in the Sarria neighbourhood. It now has 15 routes and has inspired similar schemes in the Scottish city of Glasgow and in Portland in the United States. Eight-year-old Lena Xirinacs joins the Eixemple route every Friday with her father, who is one of the volunteers ensuring that the children are safe on the road. "She wakes up with joy. I could use it as an excuse every day so that she jumps out of bed," Pablo Xirinacs said.
The Berks County Residential Center, a facility that has been the subject of much scrutiny and protests over its previous housing of migrant children and now migrant women, will be shutting down, according to an announcement from Berks County Officials issued on Wednesday, Nov. 30. County officials were informed by the federal government that it will be ending its contract on Jan. 31, 2023. The public relations officer for the county, Stephanie Weaver, issued a statement that management and staff had been made aware of the government’s decision to shut down the center. It was not specified if employees would lose their jobs or not. According to Weaver, they employ 60 people. Federal government officials have not responded to questions about the decision to close the facility.
Young Americans appear highly skeptical of Washington’s ability to improve the world through military force, according to a new poll from the Eurasia Group Foundation (EGF). A majority of respondents aged 18 to 29 told pollsters that the United States should cut its military budget, end arms sales to Israel and Saudi Arabia, and emphasize diplomacy over other tools when engaging with the world. Zuri Linetsky, a research fellow at EGF, argued that youth respondents have likely been formed by the failures of recent U.S. military policies. “If you are 29 right now, you came of voting age towards the end of the Obama years,” Linetsky said. “You saw the Iraq surge. […] You’ve seen pushes in Afghanistan that haven’t worked. You’ve just seen the limits of American power.”