Never argue with a teenager. It doesn't matter how many reasonable, well-thought-out points you make. If they feel they are right, nothing you say will convince them otherwise.
It was Friday at the continuation high school. The counselor followed Juan into the room to retrieve his backpack. She left with two.
(The continuation high school does not permit backpacks. I've always assumed the ban was to discourage the bringing of weapons and/or drugs to campus, considering the makeup of the student body.)
Juan was incensed. It was one of those drawstring bags (kind of like this one), and it only contained a folder, his cell phone charger, his keys, and some hand sanitizer. (Which he pulled out before the bag was taken away. Which he could retrieve at the end of the day.)
Why, Juan wanted to know, couldn't he bring that to school when girls are allowed to bring purses?
And he grilled me on this.
(Because I am somehow responsible?)
After ten minutes of his haranguing, I explained that complaining to me about this policy was about as useful as arguing with the wall.
The policy is, I agree, a bit sexist. I understand the distinction, but the girls do take advantage of the purse exception. Some of them carry bags that hold about as much as a backpack does. But there are some things that a girl does need a purse for.
I tried to argue the distinction with Juan, but he shot down every one of my points. I don't know why I bothered. Even if I could find a good argument, Juan would have found a way to argue against it.
(This is not the first time I've been in this sort of situation.)
Somehow the class finally settled. But Juan was still upset. He decided to write a letter to the principal. He even suggested starting a petition and asked his classmates if they'd sign it. Even the girl in the room with the offending purse agreed.
I did not know Juan was writing this letter until he brought it over to me. He asked me to read it. I offered a few notes. (I checked the grammar. It was a bit rambly and had just a basic argument, but it made his point, so I told him it was "good".) By the end of the period he had it ready and he said he was going to take it to the office.
It'll be interesting to see if he gets anywhere with this. (It's within the realm of possibility that he could get the administration to make some sort of a change. Probably not everything he wants. Several policies have changed in the past, so it's possible.)