Teens Deserve Representation in Political Affairs

Although the California State Legislature has slowly become more diverse over the years, it can still clearly be said that the people representing our state are not nearly diverse enough to represent our community as a whole. Women only make up 32% of the legislature, while just straight white men alone account for 41%. White people alone make up over half of the legislature. Age is one of the largest aspects contributing to the lack of diversity in our state’s government.

The required age to be a California senate or assembly member is 18. Despite this, the youngest person to be elected to a legislator position in the last 80 years is Alex Lee, a 26-year-old. To make this worse, the average age of the California Legislature is 52, and the Senate’s is 64.3—the oldest it has ever been. There is absolutely no teen representation in California, which is a major issue, especially when political affairs directly affect teens themselves.

In 2019, Gavin Newsom signed a bill to restrict high schools from starting school before 8:30 am. The bill was meant to allow students time to get more sleep and reduce tardiness in the morning. However, from the viewpoint of teenagers that are actually being affected by the bill, it is basically useless.

Most students will decide to stay up later at night since they can wake up later. Also, the bill does not affect the amount of homework that teachers give, so most will still work on our homework late into the night. And perhaps the most foolish part of the bill is that it did not take high school sports into consideration. At Quartz Hill High School, sports such as swimming can have practices that end as late as 7:30 pm. These practices will end an hour later with the school’s later release time. Add homework on top of this, and it results in student-athletes working later and later into the night, making the 8:30 am starting time useless.

If teenagers and high school students had representation when it came to the passing of this bill, the outcome might have been different. We should have at least been able to have a say and vote for ourselves rather than letting people three times our age dictate our lifestyle. 

Political affairs do not only affect adults; they affect teenagers too. Therefore, it is obvious that we should also have representation and voting rights, just like older people.