Teachers have been taking action after school shootings for decades now. We’ve voted. We’ve protested. We’ve petitioned.
This time, the students are leading.
The organization Students Demand Action is planning a national walkout at noon local time this Wednesday, April 5, 2023, for students who want to participate. The purpose of the walkout is to demand action from lawmakers to address gun violence in a commandingly visible (but still peaceful) way.
Here are three ways you can support the students at your school who have decided to walk out.
1. Make it easy for your students to walk out.
Even if you can’t walk out yourself, you can help students by making it easier for them to do so. Don’t plan a rigorous, crucial lesson or test for Wednesday afternoon and don’t penalize them for walking out. Even if your school has directed teachers to have a united front on being anti-walkout, you can say, “I know we had a quiz scheduled for Wednesday, but I’m just letting you know I’ve moved it to later to have a student workday. If you’re planning to have a dentist appointment, doctor appointment, or other reason to be out, Wednesday would be a great day to do it.” Any students hoping to participate in the walkout will catch your drift.
2. Let them lead, but help them facilitate.
Our students are whole people who are capable of meaningful leadership right now. Let them take the lead on this protest, but make sure you have the right info to support them.
- Make sure they’re registered. Encourage interested students to register their walkout with Students Demand Action so they can help support, organize, and recruit for the event.
- Make sure they’re safe. Talk to your administration and school resource officers to make sure they have a plan in place for student safety.
- Back them if needed with administration or other teachers. Be ready to defend their rights as it relates to the First Amendment in schools, and also know the facts about gun violence, in your state and nationwide.
- Give them time and supplies for creating posters, preparing speeches, etc.
3. Join them.
Even if you’re in a right-to-work state or have explicit instruction from your school that teachers who walk will be penalized, you can still participate by:
- Wearing orange on Wednesday (orange is the color of the gun violence prevention movement).
- Making posters for students to carry. Use your own materials and time if you’re worried about school retaliation.
- Arranging a photographer or contacting local media to capture the walkout.
- Sharing on social media how proud you are of your students.
Different states, districts, and schools will have their own ways of managing the student walkouts on April 5. But no matter where you are, knowing your students’ rights (and your own) will help you support them as they make their voices heard.
Learn more about the April 5 walkout or RSVP for Students Demand Action’s informational call today, April 3, at 8:30 P.M. ET/5:30 P.M. PT.