Our Educational Institutions Need To Be Laboratories Of Free Thought

Free speech is under attack in our high schools and our universities. Counterintuitively, the acceptable discourse on campuses around the country has diminished rather than expanded as we have become a more scientifically and intellectually expansive society. This is a problem and one that can only be solved if conservatives create environments for discussing ideas and pushing against those that seek to narrow speech.

Our educational institutions are failing us. A high school’s primary purpose is to serve as a preparatory step to a university education, teaching skills such as critical thinking, writing, and tools for success beyond the confines of Eighth Period. Necessary to critical thinking is presenting and engaging with alternative viewpoints. This has two effects; it forces students to prod the four corners of their beliefs while also fortifying areas where they discover truth. Without free speech, students are unable to engage in this process.

The Left’s youth indoctrination is so successful because of the lack of diversity of thought, and they know this. Many school systems, administrations and individual teachers outright indoctrinate. They flaunt their discontent for President Trump and conservatism, cornering the student body to a singular uniform political belief. Those who dissent from that democratic stance are outcasted and face great animosity. Liberal rallies are organized by high school administrations encouraging and many times forcing students to participate. A prime example was the March For Our Lives walkouts, in which nationally schools practically forced their students to march in rallies led by teachers who are opposed to the Second Amendment. Quite hilariously, other schools organized prayer services for the single role to ask the heavens for a ban on AR-15s. Other examples of youth indoctrination by the Left include school sponsored events such as “Diversity Day,” where left-wing students led discussions meant to alienate and criticize conservative students, discussing topics such as Black Lives Matter, white privilege, DACA, and the need for gun control.

The Left has manipulated free speech to silence conservatives. High schools have become places where conservative students feel the need to be secretive about their beliefs for fear of alienation and name-calling by their liberal classmates and teachers. Schools are meant to be environments where students can learn, but many of these institutions are shutting down thoughtful political discussion and aggressively touting the liberal agenda. Students are not learning if they don’t hear multiple sides, instead they are taught to shelter themselves from opinions that they disagree with. This censorship of principles that the Left disagrees with has led to the belief that anyone can discuss politics as long as they don’t have conservative principles or support President Trump.

Identity or emotional safe spaces need to be replaced with intellectual safe spaces. Conservatives face constant institutional discrimination from speakers facing unfair hurdles to appear on campus to students receiving differing treatment by administrators and professors for their political beliefs. This is contrasted against the phenomenon of emotional or identity safe spaces which allowed for students who felt the school didn’t adequately protect their ability to be who they are in their skin on campus. There is clearly an opportunity then for campuses to become laboratories of thought — conservatives are necessary in the lab. By breaking down monolithic spaces and broadening our acceptance, we promote potential engagement and reduce the reverb in echo chambers.

While the Left fights to gain support from high schoolers with their “tolerance” and emotions, they have been challenged by young conservatives across the nation who are fighting to ensure that all of our freedoms are preserved, especially freedom of speech.

We encourage our fellow high school students to take initiative and start their own clubs in an attempt to change the political climate at their schools. Conservatives are undervalued in high school and college, but joining with other voices creates a wider dialogue with our peers about the full spectrum of debate and acceptable discourse. We are future voters and we want to engage in the public square; join us, engage with us, and make our educational institutions places of free thought and universal ideas.