Conservative high schoolers learned how to “go out and speak their mind” during a summit in Washington designed to groom them for leadership roles, a young proponent of the Second Amendment who helped organize the gathering told The Daily Signal.
“The sheer intensity and numbers that we have been able to get is a representation of what’s happening in our country and the youth, and how motivated they are in politics,” Kyle Kashuv, a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, said in an interview.
More than 700 students attended as Turning Point USA held its first High School Leadership Summit from July 23 to July 26 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Kashuv, 17, who has spoken out against gun control as the solution to school shootings, chaired the four-day event designed to educate and motivate the next generation of leaders. He recently became director of high school outreach for the organization.
“This event is simply a great opportunity for these kids and kids in high school to learn about politics,” Kashuv told The Daily Signal.
Students heard from an impressive lineup of lawmakers and influential commentators, including U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James.
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) July 28, 2018
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban even engaged in a civil, friendly debate onstage.
“Dialogue is what is going to save Western civilization. A lot of kids hate dialogue, they hate discussion, they hate this course. We’re trying to show that even at a conservative conference we’ll bring in different ideas and we’ll have that discussion, and then let the best ideas win,” Kirk told The Daily Signal.
Turning Point USA is a conservative organization whose mission is “to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”
The summit was an opportunity for conservative high school students to become more informed and confident in sharing their views in what can be a hostile environment, organizers said.
— Rob Bluey (@RobertBluey) July 25, 2018
Most of the students will be able to vote in the 2020 presidential election.
Kashuv said the road has not been easy for him as an active, pro-Second Amendment conservative.
He noted that 30 fellow students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attended the summit, although most of the media focus has been on students there who are pushing for more gun controls since the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17.
“All the 30 kids here from [Stoneman Douglas], every single one of them, will tell you that it is a social risk being here, that they have lost friends,” Kashuv said. “I’ve lost literally all my friends, people stare me down in the halls, I get death threats on Twitter. People from my school have actually threatened to beat me up or jump me.”
But we’re empowering high school students to go out and speak their mind, and then all these top politicians came here, understanding that we have to make sure [we have] a very effective and informed next group of leaders.
If you look at the crowd and you see these kids, they are super, super energized and motivated, and it shows you that these are the leaders of tomorrow. I think one point that is missed a lot is that the speakers that we have today are top politicians and top influential people all across the world, and they took the time out of their busy schedule to talk to high school kids. High school kids.
Why? Because they understand the importance of these kids as the next generation of leaders.