(WASHINGTON) — Students, teachers, parents and administrators across the country are invited to take part in a National School Walkout this month in a call on Congress to pass tighter gun control laws.
The ENOUGH National School Walkout will be held on March 14 — exactly one month after the mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people and sent shock waves across the nation.
The event will be at 10 a.m. across every time zone and last 17 minutes — one minute for each of the victims gunned down in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The walkout is organized primarily by young people working with Women’s March Youth Empower. Those behind the Women’s March also ran the anti-Trump Women’s March demonstrations in January 2017.
Women’s March Youth Coordinator Tabitha St. Bernard Jacobs, one of the few adult allies guiding the students in the youth-led movement, told ABC News that while the walkout was sparked by the Florida school shooting, the event is about calling out gun violence.
St. Bernard Jacobs said it is a way to shed light on the type of gun violence that exists not just in schools, but everyday gun violence, like shootings that impact minority communities or devastate cities like Chicago, Illinois.
The walkout’s goal is “to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship,” according to the event.
Over 2,000 walkout events are registered for March 14.
Students from New Jersey to Indiana to California have said they will participate, as well as groups from schools as far as Ireland, Switzerland, Israel and Mexico, according to the event website.
How participants spend those 17 minutes of the walkout is up to them, St. Bernard Jacobs explained before adding that they encourage whatever is best for each environment.
Some people are doing a lie-in, while others are holding rallies, St. Bernard Jacobs said.
She stressed that this is not a protest against schools but it is a way to encourage school administrators to help students “amplify their voices.”
She went on to add, “Some schools are looking to this as an opportunity to really educate their young people about what it means in this moment to be engaged.”
The March 14 event is one of many student walkouts erupting throughout the U.S. as a new generation of youth advocates lead a fierce push for gun reform. While many school districts are supportive of the protests, some schools have reportedly threatened to punish students participating in walkouts.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said schools can punish students for missing class for walkouts, but the punishment should only be because students are missing school — it cannot be a harsher punishment because the students participated in a protest.
Dozens of colleges and universities have said they won’t penalize applicants who are peaceful student protesters, including Brown University which posted a note on Twitter.
“Applicants to Brown: Expect a socially conscious, intellectually independent campus where freedom of expression is fundamentally important. You can be assured that peaceful, responsible protests against gun violence will not negatively impact decisions on admission to Brown,” Brown University tweeted.
“That’s very encouraging,” St. Bernard Jacobs said of the schools supporting students’ decisions to protest gun violence. “This is a moment for youth to find their voice.”
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