Valley Voices

Student appreciates Fresno Unified’s Safe Place vote

Mayahuel Garcia
Mayahuel Garcia

Over the last few months, it has been difficult to focus on school.

Just last week in class, a student joked, “Let’s round up all the illegals and deport them.”

For me, my safety and my family’s safety is not a joke.

I am tired of feeling isolated and upset because some of my classmates are unsympathetic to those who are affected. And when I see that my classmates have taken sides in the classroom, I wonder what kind of world we are trying to create when we allow kids to be taunted or when school safety and support becomes a political debate.

Recently in school, I learned about World War II and the Japanese internment camps – now we are seeing the same thing with the calls for a Muslim ban and registry. And I wonder what’s different?

Are we going to repeat history?

Each day of this presidency, I come home and look up what President Trump has done. I struggle to understand how those charged with protecting us choose instead to use hate to divide us. I can feel the tension between people in our community. In the classroom, everyone takes a side. Everyone is led by his or her emotions, and there isn’t room for listening.

But this week our school board members listened.

After weeks of student, teacher and community testimony at school board meetings, the Fresno Unified School District board of trustees at Wednesday night’s board meeting unanimously passed a resolution declaring district schools a “safe place” for undocumented students.. This victory for our community is a first step in protecting students and families and a reminder to everyone that schools are places where trust and relationships matter.

My parents taught me that I should always be sympathetic and stand up for others when I see awful things happening. It is my duty to speak out and resist so that we do not repeat history.

I support the Safe Place resolution because when it comes to ensuring the safety of all students, it should not be a political decision. Schools are a place for learning, but we can’t do that when we’re afraid for our safety.

When statements such as “go back to Mexico“ or “illegal” are being thrown around by our peers, we need to be able to come to the adults on campus for support. Without this resolution, schools will send a message that not all students should feel safe and welcomed.

This is why I will continue to educate and unite my peers to spread the message that our schools should be safe places where teachers are here for us no matter your immigration status, your religion or the color of your skin.

Mayahuel Garcia is a senior at Edison High School and a youth leader with Californians For Justice, an organization committed to training young people “to create the healthy, just and thriving schools all of our communities need.” Contact the Fresno office at 443-1394.