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Seattle School Board: “You have the power to help hundreds, maybe thousands, of Seattle school children. Will you use that power for the better or for the worse?”

Zoe Schurman – Washington Middle School Student, Global Climate Strike Activist

Below is a speech Zoe delivered at a rally and press conference organized by my office on the morning of Sept 18 with students, educators and climate justice activists outside Washington Middle School to call on the Seattle School Board to excuse students from school to participate in the Sept 20 Global Climate Strike.

My name is Zoe Schurman, I’m 13, I use she/her pronouns, and I go to Washington Middle School where this press conference is being held.

I’m here today addressing the Seattle School Board to ask if they will allow us, as youth, to stand up for our futures. Please give us excused absences while we defend it. 

As a youth who knows the reality of the climate crisis, I know what it is like to feel overwhelmed by it. The planet is in crisis, and I wish that other people were handling it, but they aren’t. Us youth are trying so hard to save our future, to have the courage to do what the adults have not, and we are put under so much pressure to be perfect. 

We must get good grades, we must do all of our homework, even when we are overwhelmed by our organizing. There are the stresses of being an activist, the stresses of being a teen, and the stresses of school all piled on to one another. 

Now will you free us from the consequences of and the stresses of an unexcused absence? Or will we get one just because we demand a future where our world isn’t on fire. Because it is on fire. It is. We need a world shaped by love and compassion. Not ruled by fascism and greed. We need to be able to breathe.  We have the right to clean water. We have the right to clean air. We have the right to clean soil to grow our food in. 

You have the responsibility of being on the school board. And you took that on because you care about us, right? You care about us being successful, you care about us having good lives. Well we can’t succeed if our resources have been destroyed by the time we graduate. 

If you want us to succeed, if you truly care about us, let us strike for our futures. Why should we be punished for doing things that adults can’t, or won’t? In my experience, people are listening to the youth. We need to use this power while we still have it. 

You have the power to help hundreds, maybe thousands, of Seattle school children. Will you use that power for the better or for the worse?   

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