Apparently, it’s not just adults who aren’t fans of House Speaker Paul Ryan. When he was faced with a group of 8th graders from New Jersey who were visiting the Capitol this week, Ryan learned that quite a few young Americans also don’t like him.
According to The Village Green, a local New Jersey news outlet, about half of the students in the group refused to take a photo with Ryan. A number of the students from South Orange Middle School who declined the photo had compelling reasons for not wanting to be a part of it.
One of the students, Wendy Weeks, explained that she thought taking a picture with Ryan would signify that she agreed with his political views:
‘I think that taking the picture represents that you agree with the same political views and I don’t agree with his political views so I chose not to be in it.’
Louisa Maynard-Parisi gave a similar reason for refusing the photo-op:
‘I didn’t want to be in [the picture] because he believes in most of what Trump believes in.’
Matthew Malespina, another 8th grade student, said that he refused the picture specifically because of Ryan’s support for the American Health Care Act.
‘I can’t take a picture with someone who supports a budget that would destroy public education and would leave 23 million people without healthcare.’
Malespina’s mother, Elissa Malespina, told The Village Green that she was proud of her son for not wanting to be pictured alongside Ryan.
‘I am proud of my son and all the other students who chose…respectfully not to participate in the photograph with Speaker Ryan. My son does not believe in the policies that Speaker Ryan believes and does not want to be associated in any way with him or his policies. It is his right as a citizen to do so and I commend him and his fellow students for doing so in a respectful way. Listen to the children they get it.’
Not all of the students who did choose to be photographed are supporters of Ryan’s. Alex Klint, who opted in for the photo, explained his reasoning for wanting to be in the photo:
‘I thought it would be interesting to see one of the nation’s lawmakers in person even if I strongly disagree with many of his views.’
Although Elissa Malespina made it clear that she was proud of her son and his classmates, some other locals have not been as supportive. One unnamed South Orange resident said about the students’ behavior:
‘I’m sort of torn on this (although each kid has the right to make this choice). Even though I totally disagree with everything he stands for, he is a legitimately elected official and represents our government at work. Meeting our representatives is an honor for a kid–at least for what the office stands for (even if the person occupying that chair is less than honorable). And I do feel if there had been some conservative school where the kids refused to pose with President Obama, we would have been appalled by that.’
Was Ryan offended that the students didn’t want to be photographed with him? It’s hard to say. The students who spoke to ABC7 about the encounter said that he left right after the picture was taken and didn’t appear to notice that half of the group was watching from a distance.
Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images