Homeschool High School Civics: In Which "Attend a Protest Together" is Checked Off My Parenting Bucket List

Vaxxed and boosted? It's time to protest!

Remember that time that I happened upon an abortion rights march happening downtown and I got so excited that I literally hopped out of the car right then and joined them in my sweaty gym clothes?

Since then, I've been keeping my eye out for ways to volunteer, and other protests that I can join--with a little more advanced notice this time, ideally!

And by "advanced notice," I suppose that I meant 3 hours, because that's the approximate amount of time ahead of this particular protest that I announced to my homeschool that "Hey, there's an abortion rights rally at the courthouse this afternoon. Anyone wanna go with me?"

One kid did, and that's how our afternoon turned into a place-based, experiential, project-oriented homeschool civics lesson!

The lesson consisted of the following parts:

  1. Research the history of protest signage, and examples of current signage related to Black Lives Matter, gun control, and abortion rights.
  2. Create original protest signage, featuring an original, sincere message, while listening to my favorite Angry Feminist playlist on Spotify.
  3. Attend a protest and collect observations about the experience. Discuss both the personal experience and the social-historical context of the event. 
  4. Afterwards (because you didn't have time before!), read the full text of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Discuss.
I was a little nervous about Part 3 because, you know, you want to bring your kid to a rally, not a riot, but fortunately, our town is a liberal haven in the middle of our red state where we actually have very little state/national representation of our actual desires because our precinct has been so gerrymandered, so attending an abortion rights march here is a pretty safe bet.

There were absolutely a few sketchy incidents that happened. During one of them, the local university's newspaper literally quoted my kid and I snarking about how much gas a particular truck must have been wasting as it continually circled the courthouse and shouted at us through some kind of speaker system--they spelled our names correctly and everything, and got me word-for-word holding up a protest sign about abortion rights while fervently exclaiming, "And gas is so expensive right now!" Another online news source later published a photo of that truck's driver leaning out of his truck and spitting on a protestor, which... gross. But, you know, there's my kid and I, using our platform to grouse about the price of gasoline!

The price of gasoline is an absolute scam, though.

Mostly, though, the rally and march were lovely. Everyone was super nice and supportive, an awesome woman gave out adorable little hanger SWAPS that we pinned on our shirts, and the weather was gorgeous, giving me an excuse to run through some Handmaid's Tale dialogue with my kid:

"We've been sent good weather."
"Which I receive with joy."

OT, but I've been watching The Handmaid's Tale in 30-minute increments during my cardio at the gym five days a week, and while I'm currently at the beginning of Season 4 and still riveted (so no spoilers, please!), it's a LOT less fun now that it's turned into a documentary. Two nights ago, I had an actual Handmaid's Tale-themed nightmare. Now I kind of want to DIY some Handmaid cosplay to wear to my next march, though.

The kid and I also had a ton of fun holding up our signs to the street--

--and every supportive honk was a shot of endorphin. It was SUPER fun. And dang, an event like this would have meant everything to me when I was my kid's age.

 Might as well go home, then, and make myself mad with Part 4: Read the full text of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. 

Okay, here are screenshots of the quotes that make me the maddest:

Originalist interpretations of the Constitution make me SO mad, especially with an issue related to sex/gender or race. Yeah, no shit that the right to autonomy over one's reproductive choices wasn't mentioned in the Constitution! The Constitution was written by men! The only rights "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition" are the rights of the white male landowner, and every time the Supreme Court decides to dial down its decisions to that sole perspective, it's actually just dialing it down to the perspective of a rich cisgender white man. 

It's the same thing here:

If women weren't writing the Constitution, they sure as hell weren't writing the laws, either. They sure as hell weren't voting for or against anything, either. 

Oh, and that 1879 law they quote up there? Yeah, the last witch trial in the United States took place in 1878. You cannot use historic laws to determine what was just or desired in regards to a group of people not given agency or suffrage. Like, gee, there weren't laws back then that addressed a woman's body autonomy? That took into account a woman's potential desire not to carry a pregnancy? Wow, that's some real revelatory news you're breaking there.

And notice that the 1879 law that's quoted doesn't refer to the woman as an actor in the scenario, or the decisions that she might make for her own body, because it doesn't imagine her as someone with agency. If you want to figure out some kind of historical precedent, you'd have to figure out how actual women felt about their pregnancies, what choices they'd wanted to make, what choices they did make in secret, or just between themselves and their peers. And you can't figure that out, because it's not codified, it's not written down, and even at the time how many people would have known about it, on account of it wasn't that many people's business?

Justification using historical laws just doesn't make sense when women didn't have political agency at the time that the laws were written.

Somehow, although the Supreme Court completely ignored that fact while writing the justification, they decided that it's a great reason why returning the decision-making to the states is a super idea right now:

As a matter of fact, I do NOT find that noteworthy, and I think it's a patronizing statement to make, as if the Supreme Court doesn't know perfectly well how extremely many districts are gerrymandered. It's a running joke in my town that "our" Representative, Trey Hollingsworth, never has to step foot here, much less--gasp!--campaign here, or address any of our needs, or take into account any of our requests, because our district is gerrymandered to such an extent that no matter how poorly he does in our city, the rest of the district will carry him. Our Representative was more often a Democrat once upon a time, but the 2010 redistricting transferred enough reliably Republican areas over, and Republicans have won ever since.

Republicans don't usually even bother running in our tiny little State Representative district; instead, they used the latest redistricting to further isolate us, and peel off some Republican areas from the edges to add to other districts to make them more reliably Republican. So sure, we've got a Democrat, but there's only 29 of them in the entire House, and next week the 71 Republicans in that House are going to vote to outlaw abortion in Indiana.

So yeah, good luck voting! 

Let's not let that be the result of today's Civics lesson, though, at least not for the kid. The kid needs to walk away from her first protest feeling empowered, not defeated. She needs to focus on the energy of her fellow protestors, not the nastiness of those trying to disrupt us. She needs to feel like her voice is heard and her opinions are valued, even though she's losing some of her precious human rights.

Instead, then, let's let the kid's Civics lesson be a little piece of dog Latin also from the Handmaid's Tale:

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, Friends!