Spending Time With the Yutes

In the last couple of months, I've had the distinct pleasure to speak to local high school students about my work on the Kentucky marriage equality cases Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear. I first spoke to student journalists at Manual High School, and then today I spoke to members of the Gay/Straight Alliance at Pleasure Ridge Park High School. I had a great time discussing the cases and answering the extremely intelligent and perceptive questions the students had for me.

Any time I get to speak with students, I jump at the chance. I love their thirst for information, and the curiousness with which they approach all topics. They're just now becoming adults, and many of them haven't yet settled into intellectual or emotional autopilot like so many older people. They are still curious about life, society, each other, and themselves. The world is confusing, but they're mentally developed enough to ask perceptive questions and process complicated ideas and issues.

The students at Manual and PRP asked excellent questions. Though federal civil procedure and constitutional law are deeply complicated (and boring) topics, every student seemed engaged and interested, and they understood the underlying issues in a way I think many adults never will. These kids are blessed to not carry the baggage that previous generations still carry: Jim Crow, segregation, busing riots, the first years of AIDS, nationwide prohibition of same sex marriage, etc. Teenagers today are fully digital, exposed to different lifestyles and different ways of thinking - the full complexity of our society - from the very beginning. They are curious and insightful and take many still-controversial issues in stride.

I often feel despondent about the world, and about regressive movements in our society. But knowing there are so many smart, perceptive, and empathetic "yutes" among us (and great teachers, like Jamie Miller at Manual and Jason Linden at PRP, nurturing them), I feel a lot more optimistic. Maybe we're all going to be OK.