Kids refuse to be photographed with US Speaker Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan (Reuters)
Paul Ryan (Reuters)

They're too young to vote, but old enough to protest.

A group of students from a United States middle school refused to take a photo with US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan during a visit to Washington DC on Thursday.

The 13- and 14-year-olds from South Orange Middle School, New Jersey, were at the US Capitol when Mr Ryan dropped by for a photo op.

But about 100 - half of the group - walked away, various US media reported, instead choosing to sit in a parking lot across the street.

"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," eighth-grade student Matthew Malespina told Village Green.

"I am so proud of my son and 1/2 the 8th grade at South Orange Middle School," his mother Elissa Malespina wrote on Facebook.

"They went to DC on a field trip and toured the Capitol building. The kids had a chance to have their picture taken with Paul Ryan and over half the class choose not to, including my son! What a powerful statement."

It's not the first time students from South Orange Middle School have made headlines this year - in January they walked out of class to protest the inauguration of Mr Ryan's boss - Mr Trump.

Mr Ryan later uploaded a photograph of himself with the half of the group which chose not to protest. One of the students even gave him a fist bump.

US President Donald Trump's budget cuts US$10.6 billion from education spending, the Washington Post reports, much of which would have helped low-income students attend university.