While pundits and the media applaud the legions of schoolkids who walked out of class on Wednesday, a teacher in California had a valid question. She wondered if protests of a different sort would receive the support of the school administration.
The teacher asked if it was appropriate for the school to have been providing support for a politically motivated protest, and if such support would be there for other causes.
Said history teacher Julianne Benzel:”I just kind of used the example … a group of students nationwide, or even locally, decided ‘I want to walk out of school for 17 minutes’ and go in the quad area and protest abortion, would that be allowed by our administration.”
If civic engagement and protest are good and noble things — which we’re hearing from schools in support of the student walkouts — then they’re good and noble things. If not, you’re showing a preference for certain political positions over others.
“We had a dialogue in class about it in Thursday and Friday. And [Wednesday] I received the call. So I am aghast,” Benzel said. She was placed on paid administrative leave.
In other words, the answer to her question is “no.” She has a great legal case on her hands.
Reason‘s Robby Soave writes:
Students’ free expression rights should vastly outweigh the state’s interest in locking kids up all day, and letting them peacefully protest gun violence seemed like the right call to me. But if it’s OK to protest, it should also be OK to have a discussion about the protest.
As long as no student was unjustly disciplined for political speech, it seems to me like there’s little reason for parents to complain or for Benzel to be in trouble.
I couldn’t agree more.
When a school makes it clear that it is willing to support some political speech but not all, students are learning that some opinions can be silenced in this country. They call it progressive, but that’s regression.