Most high school seniors are worried about college applications, their upcoming graduations and maybe who they’re going to their last prom with. But one student from Las Vegas was worried about what the state’s legislators were up to.
Instead of spending her lunches gabbing with friends, Caitlyn Caruso spent it with button-down politicians and lobbyists in Carson City. Completing her final semester of school via online courses, Caruso expanded her passion for politics by advocating for causes she believes in during the 2015 Legislative Session.
“I realize that a lot of the policy this session was around education and around issues that affected young people, and I realized that the one voice that was missing from these conversations were the youth,” Caruso said. “So I decided that I had to step in and make sure we were heard.”
The trek between Carson City and Las Vegas became very familiar for Caruso over the 120-day session. She joined forces with progressive organizations such as Battle Born Progress, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, the Nevada Teen Health and Safety Coalition and the Nevada Women’s Lobby to help with travel, but calling on legislatures to listen to what she had to say was the challenging part.
Some of those causes included fighting against Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore’s controversial campus carry bill. There was even an awkward exchange between the two that took place in a bathroom at the capitol.
“I didn’t want to put any of my friends or peers at risk,” Caruso said.
Self-identifying as a member of the LGBTQ community, Caruso also advocated against what was called the transgender bathroom bill, a measure that would have required transgender students to use separate bathrooms.
“I saw my friends who identify as transgender, I saw my nephew who’s exploring his gender and I felt really scared for them," Caruso said. “I wanted to make sure that I could have their voices heard and amplify their stories.”
Caruso first appeared on national television when Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” aired a spoof on Comedy Central titled, “Sex Education in Sin City.” In the segment, a panel of teens involved with the Nevada Teen Health and Safety Coalition brought attention to their lack of sexual education in the Clark County School District, which is the first cause Caruso got involved with when she was just 15 at the 2013 Legislative Session.
While Caruso will soon be graduating high school, her claim to be a voice for the youth will continue, as she said she has hopes to be in Carson City for the next legislative session, and plans on having a political major when she starts college.
Caitlyn Caruso, student lobbyist
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