Students across the nation are preparing for school walkouts to decry gun violence on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting 20 years ago. Leon County Schools is supporting its students’ right to protest.
During the first nationwide school walkout in March, Leon County students who would have wanted to participate were on spring break. Now, they’ll be getting another shot at it. Chris Petley, spokesman for the district, says it is permitting its students to participate in the 10 a.m. walkout, which will last about 20 minutes.
“A handful of our schools, students have expressed interest in the national walkout. Our administrators are working with those students to ensure that they do not cause a disruption during the day,” Petley said. “They will not be punished, as long as there is not a disruption to the normal class day.”
Then at 2:30 p.m., students from high schools all over Leon County will gather at the Capitol courtyard for a rally they’ve dubbed “Walk Up and Speak Out.”
“We’ve heard that there are some folks at the Leon High school student government association that I believe are part of the group that spearheaded a meeting for after school. I believe their line was they didn’t want to have to choose education over protesting. That’s obviously their right, and they’re going to do it after school at the Capitol,” Petley said.
The rally’s organizers say its purpose is to send a message to legislators that advocates for gun legislation “aren’t going anywhere.” In a news release, organizers say the rally will feature speakers who have survived gun violence.
It’s the third rally calling for more stringent gun laws since the Valentine’s Day shooting at a South Florida high school when 17 people were killed, triggering a wave of student activism.