There is an interesting story in the New York Times that the city has decided that any of its 1.1 million public school students will be allowed to skip classes without penalties to join the global youth climate strikes to be held this Friday. As someone who has long advocated for action on climate change and opposes the Trump environmental policies, I am entirely in support of demonstrations. However, the decision raises some concerns over how the New York Public School system chooses which protests to sanction. Would students be permitted next month to attend anti-climate change protests? If not, this authority is being used in a viewpoint discriminatory manner.
The protests are planned to coincide with political leaders who are in NYC for the United Nations Climate Action Summit and a later General Assembly meeting. Some 2400 events are planned from Sept. 20 through Sept. 27.
This is a big deal for environmentalists and I am happy to see students participating. However, from a free speech standpoint, it would seem that the school system has to have an open policy for participation in any protests if it is to be fair to conservative or other students. Otherwise, this policy is just a reflection of the bias of the school officials. I happen to share their view but I am concerned over how students will be treated with an opposing viewpoint.
What do you think?