About 100 eighth grade students on a field trip to Washington refused to be photographed with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday, choosing to snub the man who is third-in-line to the presidency by sitting in a parking lot across the street.
Ryan’s official Instagram features a photo of him waving to the remaining students visiting D.C. from South Orange Middle School in South Orange, New Jersey.
“I can’t take a picture with someone who supports a budget that would destroy public education and would leave 23 million people without healthcare,” Matthew Malespina, a student at the school, told his local newspaper, The Village Green.
“It’s not just a picture,” Malespina added. “It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.”
Malespina texted his mother upon learning of the surprise photo op, telling her he’s “just not going to do it.”
“The point was, ‘I don’t want to be associated with him, and his policies and what he stands for,’” Matthew’s mother Elissa Malespina said.
“I am proud of my son and all the other students who chose to respectfully not to participate in the photograph with Speaker Ryan,” she told The Village Green.
“I didn’t want to be in [the picture] because he believes in most of what Trump believes in,” a fellow student, Louisa Maynard-Parisi, told The Village Green.
Some students were excited to participate in the photo op.
“I thought it would be very cool just seeing the man who is the third most powerful man in our country. It would be cool, even if you disagree with him,” student Miles Handelman said.
Ryan was a “legitimately elected official,” one parent wrote on social media, “and they would have been offended if conservative students had done the same thing to President Obama.”