A Time of Teens

Zakia Trotter

Local Teens Protest Against Transgender Locker Room Use

On Monday, January 4, students trudged out of the Fond du Lac High School to show objection to a transgender student, Janice Smith, for using the girls restrooms and locker room.

Janice Smith says she began to feel like a female around the age of 12 and began to appear as one in school and other public places when she started her eighth grade year. Smith wears makeup, skirts, and other female oriented accessories. It did not become an issue until she began to use the girl’s locker room to change before and after gym class with the option of a single occupancy restroom.

“I don’t see what the big deal is. I am a girl. I will not be pushed away by a sign on the bathroom door!” expressed Smith. But in a matter of time, it was clear that she was not warmly welcomed in the locker room. After complaining to faculty and parents, some students yelled discriminating comments as she walked through the halls of the school and others posted signs on the female locker room and restroom doors stating, “NO WANNABE GIRLS ALLOWED!” This sparked a dispute between the Fond du Lac School Board and Janice Smith.

“ I am sure this protest wasn't out to bully Janice or try to make her feel depressed. It was most likely a way for students to voice their opinions,” a member of the Fond du Lac School board stated.

“I know that most people in my school just visualize me as a boy in a wig and girl clothes because I have male features and male anatomy, which makes them uncomfortable. But the world is definitely changing and we, as in transgender people, should not be discriminated against simply because of who we are,” Smith announced.

Some of the students who protested against Janice Smith offered that one of the main reasons that having her in the female locker room was that many girls already have insecurity issues getting undressed in front of girls and circumstances become intensified when an assigned sex male is thrown into the mix. Other students think that everyone is giving too much attention to this issue because there is always the right to a single occupancy restroom if someone is feeling uncomfortable.

For now, Smith says that she will continue to use the girls locker rooms and restrooms and keep fighting for gender equality rights.

Do Teens Need Social Networking?

In the current era, more than 9 out of 10 teenagers use social networking. Some argue that social media creates a uniquely shallow and trivial culture, making kids unable to socialize face to face. While others argue that it can help boost confidence levels and offer a different way for teens to communicate and express themselves.

Some of the most popular social networking sites are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and many more. Social scientists who study young people have found that use of these websites can be inventive and also beneficial. Most of the access to social media is facilitated by mobile devices. Nearly three-quarters of teens have or have access to a smartphone. Being an active social media user can be beneficial, not just in terms of their social lives, but their education too. With the evolving world of Internet communication blogs, podcasts, tags,and much more offers students new ways to research, create, and learn.

Another reason that social networking can be beneficial to teenagers is it allows them to stay in touch with people with whom they have less frequent contact, as an outlet to let people know what is going on in each other’s worlds. Teenagers can also use social media to promote organizations or businesses they are involved with. For example, social media sites like Twitter allow small businesses or organizations to locate their current customers or seek out potential customers.

Researchers from Stanford University suggests that too much screen time and constant social media usage are linked with negative feelings and experiences. Such as feeling less socially adequate and having friends their parents considered were “bad influences”. Whereas many teens feel that older generations infer that social media gives teenagers more reason to be worried about her body image and makes them more prone to become cyber bullied. Many teenagers feel that social media boosts their self esteem levels by being able to be themselves and network with different people and places.

Either way, social networking has a definite upside as well as a worrying downside. It is very important to be aware of its positive potential as well as the dangers.

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Push for Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is an organization that believes in the fundamental right of each individual to manage their fertility, regardless of the individual's income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence. The use of Planned Parent has become a controversial issue throughout the world because of the practices that can take place in the facilities.

Planned Parenthood provides sexual health care education and information for more than five million women, men, and teenagers worldwide each year. For teenagers, there are many services offered by this organization, some include, birth control, STD screenings, STD treatment, the Morning After Pill, and several more. Almost 80% of teenagers that have been clients of planned parenthood use birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Many people need to realize using birth control to prevent pregnancy is safe and reliable. More than 34% of high school students reported to be sexually active. So why is the use of birth control considered a negative act? Teenagers thriving to be safe from pregnancy should be thought of as responsible and adult like. Several teenagers feel as if they cannot go to their parents about wanting to be safe from pregnancy, so therefore, they invest in Planned Parenthood.

Another popular use of this organization would be abortion. An abortion is the medical process of ending a pregnancy so it does not result in the birth of a baby. 1 million teenagers in America become pregnant each year. Of those teens, 78% are unintended. Of all the teenage women that become pregnant, 35% choose to have an abortion rather than bear a child, which is the right of each individual women. It has been an ongoing debate about whether abortion is considered murder. Whether some consider it murder or not, it is still the mother’s choice. No one has the right to tell a anyone what they can or cannot do with their body. Also, there are many valid reasons why a teenager would want to undergo an abortion. For example, unwanted pregnancy, lifestyle issues, being a victim of sexual harassment, concerned about the health of the baby, etc.

In conclusion, teenagers need planned parenthood because it offers sexual health information that not every teenager has access to. It also provides them a safe environment that is free of judgment and discrimination against race, marital status, lifestyle decisions, and much more.

Why Teens Should Say "No" to Substance Abuse

The time will come in almost every teen’s life when they are confronted with drugs or alcohol. Most teenagers experience this because they are asked by friends or classmates if they want to try alcohol or drugs, also known as peer pressure. As bystanders, the best thing we can do is equip teenagers with tools to say no to substance abuse and protect themselves.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, almost 80% of high school students have tried alcohol, which means only 20% of high school students have not tried alcohol. Most teenagers do not understand how alcohol works and that it affects different people and age groups differently. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, it affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls all body functions. Since the brain of a teenager is still growing, alcohol slows down the signals from the brain causing them to think, speak, and move slower. Also when alcohol reaches a certain part of the brain, called the hippocampus, a person may have trouble remembering things.

When a teenager consumes drugs, the chemicals hack into the brain’s communication system and tamper with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs cause nerve cells to release too much dopamine or stop the normal recycling of dopamine. This causes exaggerated messages to the brain, that causes issues with communication channels. It’s like the difference between someone whispering in your ear versus someone shouting in a microphone.

When teens use drugs or alcohol, they slowly lose their ability to feel any pleasure. They become flat, lifeless, depressed, and unable to enjoy things that once brought them happiness.

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