In the week since the Parkland, Florida shooting that left 17 dead, students at schools across the country have transformed into activists. They’ve left class, marched for miles with locked arms, and made speeches on national television — all to protest the United States’ gun laws and mourn the 17 people killed last Wednesday in one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings in modern history. Without gun control, these students say, another gunman will soon walk into yet another American school and open fire.
But not every school is supporting their students’ cause. The Houston, Texas-area Needville Independent School District, for example, threatened students who walked out of school with a three-day, out-of-school suspension.
“There is a ‘movement’ attempting to stage walkouts/disruptions of the school through social media and/or other media outlets,” Superintendent Curtis Rhodes wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday. “Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative. We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved.”
He added, “A school is a place to learn and grow educationally, emotionally and morally. A disruption of the school will not be tolerated.”
A Waukesha, Wisconsin school district also initially threatened students who joined the nationwide protests with disciplinary action. However, in an amended email, Superintendent Todd Gray said that parents would be allowed to write a note for protesting students to excuse them from school.
"We acknowledge that individuals have a right to demonstrate to support a cause," Gray wrote. "However, students not excused must stay in school. The district will follow the established attendance procedures to address unexcused absences from school.”
A walkout at Waukesha-area schools is planned for March 14, as part of a National School Walkout led by the organizers of the Women’s March. Students and teachers are being asked to walk out of school for 17 minutes — one minute for each of the individuals who died in the Parkland shooting — at 10 a.m. Another national protest, the March for Our Lives, will take place in Washington, D.C. on March 24. And more than 125,000 people have signed an online pledge to walk out of high schools on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine, Colorado school shooting that left 13 people dead.