Unpopular opinion: I hate Trump, but I don’t hate Trump supporters. To be specific, I don’t hate the guy in my sixth period who supports Trump and plans on voting for him in the coming election. In fact, I respect him more than any bandwagoning liberal that crosses my path. I am proud of him. Dare I say it, I actually admire him.

The stigma against conservative students at Roosevelt, commonly taking the form of verbal jabs, rolled eyes, smirks, and flat-out acts of deliberate isolation, is like a poison being pumped into our veins. It is a consistent setback in our feeble attempts at maintaining cultural diversity in this school because it discredits a political opinion held by some of the only students that are actually diverse in their perspectives. It marginalizes openly conservative students and terrifies those who are only conservative behind closed doors. Do you ever wonder why they choose to remain behind closed doors in the first place? Because beyond that door, in our own little world of Roosevelt High School, how they feel is unacceptable.

A major facet of diversity is recognizing the many parts of an individual that contribute to their overall distinguishability. What you’ll find at Roosevelt is that when any student is describing the personality of another student who happens to be liberal, they’ll often refer to what sports they play, what activities they participate in, what car they drive, or who that student’s friends are. Political affiliation is not commonly mentioned, if ever. In this circumstance, it’s assumed.

But if that same student were asked to describe another student who happens to be a known conservative, you can bet that the first thing you’ll hear about them is that they’re a conservative. They’ll say “I heard he’s a Republican” with such a painful overflow of judgment and disgust at the very phrase. Why have we decided to boil down the personalities of our right wing classmates to their political affiliations? I doubt liberals would be keen to this treatment if every facet of their character was disregarded to accommodate something superficial like a political view. We are so much more than that, and so are our conservative classmates.

I won’t say that I agree with the conservative political views held by a select few of my classmates. I’m not obligated to agree with them, but I am compelled by human nature and rational sensitivity to recognize their views as legitimate beliefs that just happen to differ from mine. That’s the problem with exorbitantly liberal students at Roosevelt. We hear even a whisper of right wing sympathy and we feel the overwhelming need to invalidate it because we interpret it as a deliberate threat to our own political views.

You’ve done it before. A conservative thought floats out into the classroom from one of your right wing classmates, and you immediately shoot it down or start an argument instead of choosing to recognize their right to an opinion. You bypass your sensitivity towards encouraging open thought and discussion and subconsciously shift into defense mode. Conservative views are wrong. Conservative students are ignorant and should be shamed through relentless passive aggressiveness until they change their minds. Why are we so obsessed with what’s right or wrong? Why can’t political views just coexist in their own distinguished characteristics?

So to those conservative students at Roosevelt who proudly voice their beliefs and ideas, I applaud you. It takes profound bravery and unabiding confidence in yourself to stand up to such an admittedly adverse political community. And to you, guy in my sixth period, I am mostly proud of you. I see you feeling discouraged from discussions about politics and holding back from expressing the opinion that you and I both know is tremendously crucial. You are what maintains Roosevelt’s unfortunately meager claim to diversity. You are important. Thank you.

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