Triangle schools to participate in National School Walkout day today

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 14, 2018

Joining a national movement, many Central Florida students plan to leave their classes today to honor the victims of the Parkland school shooting and to call for an end to gun violence a month after the massacre in South Florida. In some schools, students can address letters to their legislators seeking stricter gun measures or can register to vote.

The teens also seek to leverage momentum into civic action, with plans to push voter registration during those 17 minutes and beyond. Others were to hold demonstrations in school gyms or on football fields.

The coordinated walkout was organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women's March, which brought thousands to Washington, D.C., last year.

In Metro Detroit, Novi High School is preparing to see students walk out of class Wednesday at 10 a.m. School administrators are struggling to find a balance between listening to their students and keeping their students safe.

Student organizers have said the plan is to walk out of school buildings but remain on campus for the 17-minute period. Some have applauded students for taking a stand, while others threatened discipline. We will not tolerate behavior that disrupts school operations or threatens the safety and order of our schools.

Police were on-hand to keep students safe and make sure no one from the public went onto school grounds to join the protests.

The nationwide walkout is both a memorial and protest action in response to the Parkland school shooting.

The students are asking state lawmakers to pass several bills, including requiring universal background checks(HB 2024); preventing domestic abusers from getting firearms (HB 2299); preventing people from getting guns who are severely mentally ill (HB 2140); and banning bump stocks (HB 2023).

However, students who attend approved activities will not get in trouble because they will have teacher supervision.

Some students at Harrison High School say they will participate in the walkout. "Because when we started talking about my mind an 11-year-old should be taken aback by 17 people being shot".

From my standpoint as director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida, all of this raises important questions about the scope of First Amendment speech rights for high school students.

But some vowed to walk out anyway, understanding that accepting punishments is part of what can make civil disobedience powerful.

"Change never happens without backlash", said Kara Litwin, a senior at Pope High School in the Cobb County School District.

The possibility of being suspended "is overwhelming, and I understand that it's scary for a lot of students", said Lian Kleinman, a junior at Pope High. However, I believe it would be unwise not to prepare and provide families with information. "Should students choose to do so, they will be suspended from school for 3 days and face all the consequences that come along with an out of school suspension".

Students who do not show up for class will be marked as unexcused and parents will be notified.

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