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Speak Your Mind: Ageism is a Thing

Hey, everybody! You might not know this, but I turned 18 last year (19 next month!), so official adulthood is still fairly new for me. I am often mistaken for being at least a couple years older than I am due to my vocabulary, eloquence, and (so they tell me) intelligence. Of course, this happened with just as much frequency before I became a legal adult, but it was much more significant back then.

You know how some people look at you one way before they know you’re a non-believer/agnostic and a totally different way after they find out? It’s very similar to when someone thinks you’re an adult then finds out you are not one. Sometimes, it dramatically changes the climate of a conversation and the dynamic of a relationship.

And unfortunately, a lot of people treat you a lot differently when they know you’re a minor.

I’ve been denied jobs due to my age. I’ve been condescended to by family and others for lacking some experience or number of years lived. I’ve even been told I can’t be an atheist because I haven’t known anyone who died! Which was not true, by the way.

Thanks to all that, I’m giving a talk at a skeptic conference next month called The Skeptics of Oz in Wichita, KS about ageism*. (I think I’m actually speaking Saturday evening, contrary to that schedule.) Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many statistics about ageism against young people, and even less so pertaining specifically to skeptic, feminist, atheist, or similar social groups. And since we all know that, while anecdotes themselves are not data, a large number of anecdotes do comprise data.

So, dear readers, have you ever experienced some form of ageism within skeptic or related communities? Have you had age-related issues with someone outside the communities about your involvement or views? Or any other random examples of ageism?

*Ageism in this context refers not only to discrimination based on age, but also perceived level of experience, particularly against younger people.* If you’d prefer to respond privately, you can email me at rhyvin at captainheadache dot com.

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Lux is a female genderqueer weirdo, writing from Kansas. They happily identify as a militant atheist(+), feminist and liberal. Their time is consumed with Doctor Who, reading, and playing WoW with a cat on their lap. If you're lucky, you might catch them smithing jewellery or cleaning something.

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