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'Minors Do Have A Voice' In Anti-Curfew Push

Students find civic awakening amid campaign to quash controversial proposal.

After he gets home from cross country practice, Rafeh Quershi, 16, has hours of homework to complete from his five AP classes at Often, Quershi finishes around 11 p.m., after which he goes on a run to stay in shape.

“It’s really hectic, but that’s the academic environment Montgomery County has,” Quershi said. “There already aren’t enough hours in the day to finish what we need to do. They can’t tie our hands up even more.”

Quershi aired his concerns to the Montgomery County Council Tuesday at its on a proposed teen curfew. He attended the hearing with three of his 16-year-old friends -- guys who enjoy getting a hamburger at McDonald’s late at night just because they can. If passed, the curfew would ban youths 17 and under from being in public places after 11 p.m. during the week and after midnight on weekends.

Around 30 students and several parents attended Tuesday's hearing.

“The bill is discriminatory, it’s poorly written and it doesn’t seem particularly enforceable or a good use of police forces,” said student Colin Versteeg, 16. “I hope that we are able to influence the County Council and help them make a better decision that doesn’t involve infringing on youth rights.”

The campaign is proving to be a political touchstone for county youth, thousands of whom have rallied against the proposal online. Yesterday’s hearing was the first chance for teens to make their case before county leaders who will decide the curfew’s fate.

“I think the meeting was a fantastic success,” said Abigail Burman, 17, who created the Stand Up to the Moco Youth Curfew Facebook page. “We had so many people come out, so many people testifying: parents, concerned citizens, students, student athletes. I think it just shows how wide the opposition to this curfew is.”

Before the hearing, Burman passed out “Protest the Curfew” stickers and voter registration forms for students who will be eligible to vote in 2012.

“We wanted to also show that we’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the next election,” said the Board of Education's student member Alan Xie, who has come out against the curfew. “One of the things that happens a lot of times is kids get written off as being immature or not knowing what’s best for them. We’re trying to say our movement is educated and mature.”

For their next step, Burman and other student organizers plan to protest the bill at 7p.m. Friday in front of the Regal Majestic Cinemas in Silver Spring. They also hope to meet again with council members.

“It’s really punishing the majority to single out a minority,” said Bella Umberger, 16. “I hope people will learn that minors do have a voice and that we do have an interest in what’s at stake here.”

Jeff Hawkins July 27, 2011 at 06:39 PM
What a wonderful job these young people are doing. A really good lesson in Civics to be had here. I hope it goes well for them.
GingerR July 27, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Maybe we just need a curfew for Black/Asian/Hispanic kids who live in the Eastern part of the County? Those kids with ID that establishes them as residents of Bethesda and Potomac will be free to party all night as they please. What about white kids on the honor roll at Blair? Should they get a pass to stay out late? Maybe if we just had everybody tatto their latest GPA and family address on their arm and applied the curfew that way?
Elizabeth Forbes Wallace July 28, 2011 at 01:13 PM
If the McDonalds and other locations that attract teen consumers ask for proof of ID after curfew, and then refuse to serve, maybe the teens could get a healthier hamburger at home. If students 17 and under (nor their parents) aren't willing to pay a hefty fee to Montgomery County maintain the services like the police, then they should go home read about how lack of sleep affects their GPA and go to bed cause it's so boring it would put you to sleep. www.sleepfoundation.org If teens don't get around 9.25 hours of sleep a night it leads to: - memory loss for those tests to get into those Ivy League schools - acne so you won't feel confident for interviews or dates - aggressive and impatient behavior as if it isn't difficult enough to deal with brain addled parents already. Could your sarcastic remark in public turn into a fight or drive by? - tendency to heat unhealthy foods like McDonald's which affects weight gain BTW your brain WILL fall asleep when IT wants to. I know, I was a sleep deprived adult working 18 hours a day and fell asleep driving my car. It's like driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%. I realized I was not superwoman, even if I could go to an all night restaurant in DC "cause I could" to eat lunch in the middle of the night. There is a difference between rights and privileges. Perhaps that is the issue that needs to be explored.
Harry Bergeron August 01, 2011 at 04:43 PM
I'm thinking we need to restrict Elizabeth Wallace's internet access - she'd be healthier if she took that time for yoga, to eat bean sprouts, or something else. - Big Brother

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