The Problem with The CCUSD Walkout
March 15, 2018
We all want the same thing; to feel safe at school. Today, March 14, 2018, the nation is walking out of school to show their support for the 17 victims who tragically died in the Parkland shooting. We completely support more gun control. There is solid evidence that less gun control will cause more homicides, suicides, and gun deaths. So, this walkout seems great, right? It’s a place where students can protest our current, ineffective gun laws in a safe manner, and express our political opinions.
We did not attend the walkout.
We are two 13-year olds in 7th grade attending CCMS. We completely agree that these shootings are terrible, and stronger gun control legislation is necessary. So, why is it that we’re writing right now, during the walkout, instead of attending it? Well, there’s a missing piece to the story. Rather, there’s a huge chunk of the story that is missing. While the overall concept of this walkout is good, it is riddled with flaws and problems that are so blatant and problematic that we simply couldn’t attend.
This walkout is on a national level, and it is being organized by the youth branch of the people who organized the women’s march. Three of the four women’s march leaders have been seen attending events of the leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan. Louis Farrakhan is a well-known anti-Semite, and once said that the Jews gave pot to black people to make them gay. This is a homophobic, anti-Semitic person, and yet the leaders of the women’s march refused to say that he is a bad person, and they continue to attend his speeches.
The next problem is that the school administration is controlling every aspect of the protest. They’ve taken a student protest and turned it into a school event. Now they’re able to moderate and choose who gives a speech, control the location, etc. We aren’t even leaving the campus; we’re simply heading out to the football field. When the walkout starts, they announce it on the loudspeaker and have kids line up to leave. They’re even changing the bell schedule to fit in the protest, and you’re not even allowed to stay in class.
Yep, you read that right; we are forced out of class during the walkout. Can you tell us how it’s a protest to force everyone to leave class? What about kids who don’t want to walk out? They have to find somewhere to sit for over an hour. School is about education, so why should we be legally required to come to a protest or sit and do nothing?
It isn’t right that the administration is using their power to express their political views. They are using this to push their own political agenda, and they are making it so that kids who don’t even know about the issue are going on the walkout. The default is going on the walkout, unless you explicitly say you want to sit around for over an hour. That makes no sense; if you’re going to school, the default should not be the walkout. You should only go to the walkout if you know about it and agree with it. Because the school is doing it and taking control of everything, this walkout will not make a difference because it will (correctly) seem like the administration is telling the kids what to say. Protest means so much more when you understand what is at stake.
We all want to prevent mass shootings, and gun control is an important step to achieving that. However, this “walkout” is not even a walkout (we aren’t leaving campus!), it’s being controlled by the administration, it’s being done in association with anti-Semites and likely homophobic people, and it will be completely ineffective. The event feels like a party, not a protest. If you want to make a difference, this walkout isn’t going to do it.
We respect everyone who is at the walkout. We need walkouts to get the attention of the White House to make legislation changes, but the last thing we want is for them to think that the administration is riling us up and forcing the walkout. A student led walkout that was a real protest would be much more effective, and we need to fight for gun control and our safety. Hopefully, there will be more student led walkouts and protests in the future to fight for what’s right.
Sam Gerstmann and Shane Hillestad