Your voice matters, says activist X González

2 minute read

A "wall of Demand" mural and video message created by Manuel Oliver, father of Joaquin Oliver, one of 17 people killed in the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is seen shortly after it's unveiling on the one year anniversary of the mass shooting in New York City, New York, U.S., February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Dec 2 (Reuters) - Gun violence prevention activist X González has a message for people: Do not underestimate the power of your voice, it can effect change.

González, who uses they/them pronouns, was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a former student with an assault gun killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

"I really think that a lot of people underestimate the power that they have and the influence that they can have," González, 22, said in an interview this week at  the  Reuters Next conference.

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"People take for granted that their voice isn't going to do anything when it really will because that's what happened to me," they added.

In the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy, González became a vocal advocate for stricter gun laws and gun violence prevention, helping to organize a national student movement around the issues.

A speech González gave at a gun control rally in Florida days after the shooting, calling "B.S." on supporters of the U.S. gun lobby, went viral.

They were among the student activists and survivors that led to the passage of a bill in the Florida legislature in March of 2018 that tightened gun control regulations.

In the same month, González and other Parkland survivors led hundreds of thousands of young Americans in the March for Our Lives, demanding tighter gun laws.

"The kids of this generation are just made of a different material and I am really glad that we were able to start young in terms of our activism," said González.

Deadly gun violence remains a pervasive issue in the United States. Earlier this week, the deadliest U.S. school shooting of the year claimed the lives of four students in Michigan. read more

There are more books than speeches in the life of the young activist nowadays, who is attending college in Florida. But González, sporting a pink mohawk, said they will likely return to activism in the future.

"I fully expect that later in my life I'll be out and about again," González said.

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Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Jane Wardell and Daniel Wallis

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