Baltimore’s Middle Schoolers Elect Obama, Support Marriage Equality, Veto Casinos

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Photo by Karen Castillo in Washington D.C.

Did you hear? Obama won, same-sex couples can get married, and Maryland won’t get any more casinos. Sounds pretty good to me, I’ve gotta say — unfortunately, the voters in question were in middle school, so they don’t actually get to weigh in on the issues in real life. But still, these are the kinds of results that make me hopeful for the future.

More than 2,500 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders from 29 city schools listened to debates, argued issues in class, and hosted visitors like Republican delegate Pat McDonough and Democratic delegate Mary Washington. Social studies classes taught about the history of elections, and how voting has changed over the years. And then, this Monday, they voted.

If President Obama was running for middle school class president in Baltimore, he’d win handily:  he came away with 96 percent of the ballots cast yesterday. Nearly two-thirds of students voted in support of Question 6, which would legalize gay marriage in Maryland. “Who are we to say you can’t marry who you love?” sixth-grader Isabelle Padgett told the Baltimore Sun. “It’s America, it’s a free country.” (She also noted that Mitt Romney lost her vote because he said he would kill Big Bird.) An even greater majority (70 percent) voted in support of Question 4, the Dream Act initiative, which would allow children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition rates.

The most divisive issue was Question 7, which deals with expanding casinos in Maryland. “I understand that it could bring in money and boost our economy, but at the price of addiction,” sixth-grader Maebe Thistel told the Sun. “I think for the sake of our community, it’s just not right.”

However you feel about the issues, this level of political engagement is encouraging to witness. So make like a seventh-grader and get out there and vote!

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