Students at some 2,500 schools across the country walked out of school at 10 a.m. today to protest inaction on guns. The walkouts culminated in 17 minutes of silence—one for each life lost at Parkland. It was a staggering, powerfully symbolic action planned by students who, by and large, aren’t eligible to vote. But if a handful of school administrators around the country had had their way, this necessary disruption wouldn’t have happened at all.
In the run up to the walkout, some principals and district leaders tried to discourage students from protesting—either because they disagreed with the walkout’s message or because anytime young people get organized it makes older people in power nervous. Still worse, others threatened to punish students who marched.
A non-exhaustive list of just some of the bullshit that students standing up for reasonable, sensible policy changes faced today:
- The Cobb County School District in Georgia warned: “Students who choose to disrupt the normal operation of a school may be subject to consequences.” At Sprayberry High School, a school in the district, students said staff physically blocked them from leaving the building for the walkout today, a charge a district spokesman denied to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- In Texas, the Needville Independent School District threatened students who participated in the march with a three-day suspension. “Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative,” superintendent Curtis Rhodes wrote on the district’s now-deleted Facebook page. “We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved.”
- Officials at the Sayreville School District in New Jersey also said students who walked out would face suspension, as that action would constitute the mortal crime of not following an administrator’s directions. To their enormous credit, students walked out anyway.
- Students at Mount Diablo High School in Concord, CA, had to force their way through gates that school officials locked ahead of the walkout, The Mercury News reported.
To all of the people who tried to stop their students from walking out: fuck you. You’re scolds who get off on enforcing school rules and cowards who are doing your students no favors. You’re also casting your lot among those who will find themselves firmly on the wrong side of history.
As usual, the teens understand what most adults still don’t: that direct action—and putting constant pressure on the people in charge—is the only way things get done. Don’t let anyone in a cheap suit stop you.