An organization encouraging political discussions among teens — with high school students at the helm — opened its first chapter in Tarrant County at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake. 

Politics for Teens commits to nonpartisan conversations around politics and bridges the divide of polarization, said Akshaya Meka, senior at Carroll Senior High School and chapter president. The Southlake chapter will disseminate various topics using a shared curriculum to members through a newsletter, and Meka will interact with students over in-person forums and community outreach projects. 

“It’s so important to understand all the viewpoints when you’re hearing about things going on in the world,” she said. 

The chapter selected officers over the summer and has lined up a staff monitor, and the students will expand the chapter throughout the school year, Meka said. In the future, she said she wants to host community events and invite local politicians to speak, as other chapters do. Southlake chapter members can attend the organization’s political forums.

The Southlake chapter will use a curriculum created by the larger organization. Each chapter president will slightly modify it for their members as needed to give a basic understanding of the chosen topic for a given day, Meka said. 

Topics range from domestic-focused issues such as homelessness, marijuana legalization and minimum wage to foreign ones like the Russian-Ukraine war, human trafficking and cybersecurity. 

“I would love to educate people before the election next year — that’s definitely one of our priorities for 2023-2024,” Meka said.

The chapter’s origin

The Southlake chapter of Politics for Teens is one of over two dozen that opened this summer, said Rizwan Khan, founder and executive director of the nonprofit and senior at Plano West Senior High School. 

Khan started Politics for Teens at Plano West late in 2022, and by the beginning of summer 2023, the organization had spawned two chapters. By July, that number grew to 30, Khan said. 

The organization now has over 50 chapters worldwide, with over 14,000 student members.

“It’s so important to understand all the viewpoints when you’re hearing about things going on in the world.” 

Akshaya Meka, senior at Carroll Senior High School and Politics for Teens chapter president

Carroll Senior High School has a broad base of students motivated to discuss politics, which is why Khan selected it for one of the new chapters, he said. 

Carroll High is a part of the Carroll ISD, which passed a resolution to leave the Texas Association of School Boards in March because of the state organization’s “divisive political ideologies.” 

“We are providing an unbiased approach to politics, and there are students in Southlake who are interested in global affairs — just as there are in any other city in America — so, I see no problem in educating those who are interested from a nonpartisan platform,” said Leonardo Reyes, director of operations for the Southlake chapter of Politics for Teens. 

Meka doesn’t want to create an environment that encourages fighting and more negativity toward politics. Instead, she will try to ensure a respectful space and redirect conversations that she senses have become nonconstructive. 

“Early involvement, exposure and education help make more informed and better citizens in the future, especially when they are used to understanding and researching multiple perspectives, which is what Politics for Teens focuses on,” she said. 

Helping students understand themselves

Reyes, who is in charge of the chapter’s operations and social media, said he plans to use his connections with other school organizations to invite more members. Members of the Southlake chapter also attend local organizational events to earn credibility, he said. 

“I want to use this position to do good in the community, and helping teenagers learn about politics and international issues is a great way to do that,” Reyes said.

Texas teenagers have experienced an intense political coming of age. They’ve seen hyper-partisanship, multiple national racial justice protests and the contentious presidencies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

In 2022, 23% of nationwide eligible voters between 18 and 29 cast a ballot in the midterm election, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, a youth civic engagement research organization best known as CIRCLE. In 2018, 28% of eligible voters went to the polls. In 2014, just 13% voted.

When Khan first started Politics for Teens, many disregarded his efforts because of his age. But to him, the next generation of leaders should start young. While there is value in mature opinions — and people’s political beliefs change and evolve as they grow older — conversations are needed with youth because political decisions also affect those under 18, Meka said. 

The world’s problems will become teenagers’ problems, regardless if they like it, Reyes said. Having these conversations helps young people learn what matters to them and what affects their lives now and in the future. 

“The bottom line here is that it is important to me that the young know what is happening in the world and that they have an understanding of the politics of our day and age because they will soon be, or already are, adults, and this chapter in Southlake is just another small attempt to help with that,” he said. 

Dang Le is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Dang Le is a reporting fellow. He can be reached at Le has a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. He was the editor-in-chief at The Shorthorn, UTA’s...