Colorado high schoolers tackle controversial topics during diversity summit
The 25th Annual Cherry Creek Diversity Conference. Photo by Ellen Jaskol. February 3, 2018.

Over a thousand high schoolers in Colorado spent their Saturday morning debating a range of controversial issues during an annual conference that aims to improve tolerance and inclusivity.

The Cherry Creek Diversity Conference organized by the non-profit organization Youth Celebrate Diversity gives students the opportunity to share their opinions in a supportive environment and practice their debating skills.

Forty different workshops on controversial topics were offered, including talks on body image, hate crime and homelessness, The Denver Channel reported.

“So many people here come ready to learn, ready to have their ideas challenged, and I think our youth is going to be the future that our world needs,” Aaron Abai, co-chair of the 2018 conference, was quoted saying.

Students and teachers were encouraged to share their opinions on difficult topics including their experiences with religion, race, sexuality and gender, as well as friendship problems.

“We’re young, we’re not completely sure of ourselves,” said Lauren Banko, the 17-year-old who served as the event’s other co-chair.

“Hopefully hearing other peoples’ stories and opinions can help us learn what we’re passionate about and help us make change in our community.”

This year’s student-ran and student-attended conference marked the 25th anniversary of the annual summit.

Banko said:

“That [student-led initiative] says so much about our generation, and the future of America.” 

The two seniors who led the charge say they simply want to lead the change.

Banko explained: “These conversations won’t be taboo anymore and we can talk about religion and politics without having arguments. And agree respectfully, converse and celebrate each other’s perspectives.”

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