President Donald Trump has invited a 6th grade student from Wilmington, Del., Joshua Trump, to sit in first lady Melania Trump’s box during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
Joshua has been bullied in school because of his last name, according to a White House press release. But, “he is thankful to the First Lady and the Trump family for their support,” a White House statement said.
Education Week has reported on concerns about a rise in bullying, hate crimes and bias incidents in schools since the campaign and election of President Trump, who has frequently used coarse language and racist rhetoric when describing immigrants, people of color, and women. Some students, educators, and parents have suggested that Trump’s influence has emboldened some children, teenagers, and even school employees to openly espouse hateful views.
It’s possible that President Trump will mention Joshua in the speech as an example of how politically polarized the current climate is. And he may give a shout-out to first lady Melania Trump’s anti-bullying campaign, #BeBest.
Also in the first lady’s box: Grace Eline, a child cancer survivor, and two people with a connection to the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Love Synagogue in October. They include Thomas Matson, a Pittsburgh police officer who was shot while responding to the shooting, and Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor who was at services that day, but survived.
So far, the White House hasn’t mentioned any guests connected to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. But two lawmakers from Florida will be bringing parents of victims. Rep. Ted Deutsch, D-Fla., invited Manny Oliver, who started the organization Change the Ref after his son Joaquin was killed at Parkland. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., chose to bring Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, another Parkland victim.
Meanwhile, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., invited Alexandria Goddard, who helped organize Portland’s March for Our Lives, as a high school student.
Want more on the speech? Check out our preview of what to watch for here.
President Donald Trump speaks as he hosts a listening session about school violence with high school students, teachers and parents in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on Feb. 21, 2018. --Carolyn Kaster/AP
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