Exactly one month after the school shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students are demanding action through a nationwide walkout.
Today, March 14, at 10 a.m. local time, students across the country will walk out of their schools for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim who lost their lives. Nearly 3,000 schools are expected to participate.
The purpose of the walkout is to press lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws, according to EMPOWER, the youth wing of the Women's March and the group organizing the action. Participants want Congress to ban assault weapons, require universal background checks before gun sales and pass a gun violence restraining order law that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior, CNN reports.
Enough is enough!— Women's March (@womensmarch) February 16, 2018
Women's March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am on March 14, 2018. Join us in saying #ENOUGH!https://t.co/8ZE8uthRlZ pic.twitter.com/45yCZl4zDm
The walkout is open to American students, teachers and staff. Everyone is encouraged to participate; however, organizers have asked anyone not affiliated with a school to stay away from the walkouts, citing safety concerns.
EMPOWER provided local student organizers with toolkits to help them get started. The kits include a step-by-step guide to organizing a walkout, sample letters to administrators to request permission to participate and an explanation of students' rights. While students should have a right to protest, some schools are threatening students with unexcused absences, docked grades or suspensions if they choose to join the walkout.
Vera Eidelman, a fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union, said schools could punish students if they miss class, even if they're joining the walkout.
"But what the school can't do is discipline students more harshly because they are walking out to express a political view or because school administrators don't support the views behind the protest," Eidelman explains.
No one protest is expected to look the same as some students will leave their campuses to gather outside, while others will hold rallies in campus common areas. Speakers, poem recitals, voter registration drives and moments of silence will be components of the call to action as well, according to the LA Times. Some students will wear orange in the spirit of the Wear Orange campaign associated with National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Others will wear white to symbolize peace and love.
Student activists aren't stopping with the walkout. Next up is the "March for Our Lives" protest planned for Saturday, March 24. The main event will be held in Washington D.C. with satellite marches planned across the globe.
Will you or someone in your life be participating?