About half of a New Jersey eighth-grade class that came to Washington D.C. on a May 26 field trip refused to take a picture with House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Elissa Malespina, a school librarian and the parent of Matthew, one of the eighth-graders involved, wrote about the incident on Facebook: "I am so proud of my son and 1/2 the 8th grade at South Orange Middle School. They went to D.C. on a field trip and toured the Capitol building. The kids had a chance to have their picture taken with Paul Ryan and over half the class choose not to, including my son! What a powerful statement," noted The Village Green.
Elissa expounded on her post in a message to the news site:
I am proud of my son and all the other students who chose to respectfully not to participate in the photograph with Speaker Ryan. My son does not believe in the policies that Speaker Ryan believes and does not want to be associated in any way with him or his policies. It is his right as a citizen to do so and I commend him and his fellow students for doing so in a respectful way. Listen to the children they get it.
Matthew added some specifics: "I can’t take a picture with someone who supports a budget that would destroy public education and would leave 23 million people without health care."
Some of the other students involved also told the news site why they boycotted the photo op.
"I think that taking the picture represents that you agree with the same political views and I don’t agree with his political views so I chose not to be in it," Wendy Weeks stated.
"I didn’t want to be in [the picture] because he believes in most of what Trump believes in," Louisa Maynard-Parisi said.
Alex Klint, a student who did have his picture taken with Ryan, countered: "I thought it would be interesting to see one of the nation’s lawmakers in person even if I strongly disagree with many of his views."
An unidentified South Orange resident expressed some reservations regarding the boycott in a social media post:
I’m sort of torn on this (although each kid has the right to make this choice). Even though I totally disagree with everything he stands for, he is a legitimately elected official and represents our government at work.
Meeting our representatives is an honor for a kid -- at least for what the office stands for (even if the person occupying that chair is less than honorable). And I do feel if there had been some conservative school where the kids refused to pose with President Obama, we would have been appalled by that.
For his part, Ryan posted a picture on himself with some of the students on Instagram on May 26, adding a caption: "Got that #FridayFeeling."
Instagram commenters weighed in as well:
Great job kids so proud to see you stand up for your rights.
What about those 100+ 12-13 year old children who were wise enough to see that "fake Friday feeling."I love all these young Americans for using their voice. I stand behind them 100%.
Screw those kids, they no nothing about Paul, other than that what there parents tell them, he's a republican so he is a terrible person.