A member of the UK’s Youth Parliament delivered a heartfelt speech today as the group debated racism and religious discrimination in the chamber.
The Welsh representative said a teacher had “put her down” about her race and that “he made me feel that I was worse than anyone else in the class”.
The Youth Parliament, which has more than 250 elected members aged 11-18, took part in a debate in the House of Commons chamber, chaired by the Speaker, John Bercow MP.
On the subject of discrimination against Muslims, another Youth Parliament member said “Why are people more worried about a piece of fabric on my head than what’s inside it?”
“We must continue to foster the idea of inclusiveness, and it starts with education.”
The group has long been viewed as a training ground for those who wish to enter politics in later life, but some members said the option had become less appetising recently.
Catlin Cavanagh, a 17-year-old from Liverpool, told HuffPostUK the recent victory of Donald Trump demonstrated people no longer wished to listen to ordinary politicians. She said she now plans to become a writer in order to get her voice better heard.
Others disagreed. Liam Carthwright from Newcastle Upon Tyne, who does plan to enter politics, said that the growth of social media meant politicians’ views were more available than ever - if more scrutinised.
“I do see myself getting into politics at some point. More than ever people do look at politicians - they see their views more”, he said.
He said his interest in politics had started “when Margaret Thatcher died - I saw all of the hatred for her premiership - it just spiralled from there”.
As debates closed the group elected to make “votes for 16 and 17 year olds”, and “a curriculum to prepare us for life” the focus of their 2017 campaigns.
“I am delighted to welcome the Youth Parliament to their annual sitting. It is always encouraging to see young people debating issues so passionately in the House of Commons and participating in our democracy. Almost a million young people, from across the UK, voted for the motions before us on the Order Paper today, and I am pleased that they are making their voices heard and engaging with the parliamentary process.”