On Wednesday, pro-life students from hundreds of high schools and colleges across America participated in the National Pro-Life Walkout to protest abortion in the U.S. Event organizers also called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood:
“On Wednesday, April 11th, we will walk out of our classes for 17 minutes of silence and prayer. We will stand silently outside outside honoring the 10 children who will violently die during that time at a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. We will rally and demand the end of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funded empire. We will kneel and pray for the end of legal abortion in our nation.”
The event’s website warns lawmakers that the “pro-life generation” will not stand for the killing of a fourth of their generation.
The idea began after California high school students expressed concern over a double-standard on school walkouts following the gun-control student walkout in March in response to the school shooting in Florida.
Brandon Gillespie of Rocklin High School in Sacramento, California, spearheaded the event with organizational support from Student for Life of America. He said the pro-life walkout was inspired by Juliene Benzel, his history teacher, who was put on paid administrative leave after asking if the school would allow a pro-life walkout as it did the gun-control student walkout.
Gillespie said they did not.
“They are not giving me any accommodation at all, except for the district policy of not punishing students for protesting,” he said. “That is not the accommodation that I asked for; I asked for the same accommodation as the anti-gun protest, that teachers would be flexible in their lesson planning, and also for the availability of equipment that the anti-gun protesters were allowed to use. It just confirms for me that there is a political double standard, at least in my school district.”
A Rocklin Unified School District spokesperson told CNS News that while pro-life students will not face disciplinary action for participating, the school will not officially sanction the event because it isn’t “viewpoint neutral.”
By contrast, the district claimed that the gun-control walkout qualified as a “special event” because it was a “viewpoint neutral” “remembrance activity.” However, CNS News notes that the gun walkout did advocate specific policy viewpoints, such as support for banning high-capacity magazines and opposition to concealed carry reciprocity legislation.
Rocklin High School officials told local media outlets the National Pro-Life Walkout was not a walkout but a “voluntary remembrance.”
On Monday, the Life Legal Defense Foundation sent a letter to Rocklin High School stating it was in violation of legal precedent against viewpoint discrimination, and warning that it would pursue legal action if the school attempted to hold Gillespie accountable in ways that students participating in the gun-control walkout were not.
Benzel and several of her students say there should be a bigger national conservation, not only about gun-control, but also for free speech rights. If people have the go-ahead to walk out of school for gun-control, then it’s only right that other issues, such as abortion, can get sanctioned walkout days as well.
Sponsors of the walkout included Crossroads, Family Research Council, Kansans for Life of Douglas County, Massachusetts Family Institute, Save the Storks, Oklahoma Teens for Life and Californians for Life.