Gay marriage, religious insecurity top of youth's agenda

Shaina Johnson took part in the Throsby Youth Leaders Roundtable on Wednesday. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Shaina Johnson took part in the Throsby Youth Leaders Roundtable on Wednesday. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Gay marriage, religious insecurity, youth unemployment and school-related pressures are the issues preoccupying the Illawarra’s youth, according to a group of teen leaders.

Students from area schools found their voices on Wednesday at a Youth Leaders’ Roundtable in Dapto.

Kanahooka High School’s Shaina Johnson was among the students who made the case for legalising gay marriage.

‘‘The older generations grew up when gay marriage [wasn’t legally recognised] and we’ve seen the trouble that’s created, so we think it should be changed,’’ Shaina told the Mercury.

‘‘I’ve got a friend and her parents are gay. They had a wedding but it wasn’t actually legal. 

‘‘This [shows] children that they don’t have the right to marry who they want.’’

Throsby MP Stephen Jones has hosted the forum for the past three years as a way of tapping into the concerns of younger constituents.

He said the students were ‘‘passionate and articulate about what’s going on in the world’’.

‘‘Anyone who thinks young people are apathetic and don’t care hasn’t taken the time to sit down and talked to them,’’ he said. 

Ashleigh Gates, a Year 11 student at Illawarra Christian School, said stresses associated with the senior years of high school weighed heavily on many students’ minds.

‘‘I know the Board of Studies has initiated changes in the curriculum so that students and teachers are more focused towards the HSC in particular,’’ she said. 

‘‘Now it’s like your only career option. It’s just a lot of pressure to deal with.’’ 

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