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'I stood up for my freedoms' | Katy ISD graduate becomes advocate for student rights

Cameron Samuels, a Katy ISD graduate, recently testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee addressing book bans.

HOUSTON — Houston-area teens are speaking out about book bans on a national scale.

What started as a local organization to advocate for student rights at their schools has taken them all the way to the United States Capitol.

Cameron Samuels, a Katy ISD graduate, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee addressing book bans. They said there should be a collaborative effort between parents, students and educators to make those decisions.

"I stood up for my freedoms, but my school district removed age-relevant books at record pace," Samuels said during an interview on C-SPAN.

Samuels and others created SEAT - Students Engaged in Advancing Texas.

"I felt obligated to call to light this censorship because it was harming me and harming many of my peers," Samuels said during the interview.

As the executive director of the group that hasn't even been around for a year, Samuels said the group won't stop fighting for what they believe in.

"We aren't advocating for inappropriate materials in elementary school libraries like the senators were telling us, but what we are advocating for is that they stop fear-mongering, stoking fear on books," Samuels said.

Samuels, along with SEAT State Policey Lead and Co-Founder Hayden Cohen and SEAT Research Specialist Zahra Bakrin, took the trip to Washington also as an opportunity to speak with lawmakers about other issues impacting students.

"Just because you can't vote, you may not be old enough, you may not be eligible for other reasons, that does not mean you can't have a voice in what was going on because these laws are affecting you," Cohen said.

"It was nice to feel as if my being there had some sort of influence on the way that maybe policy would be formed in the future or if I change the mind of someone who works in government," Bakrin said.

Their goal is to continue growing the organization and create lasting change for younger generations.

"This is the time where students can create their own platform for change," Samuels said.

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