Students at hundreds of schools across the country walked out of class on Wednesday to to remember the lives lost and pain caused from abortion as well as to protest taxpayer dollars going to Planned Parenthood.
More than 300 students or student groups at American high schools and colleges walked out of class at 10am for a moment of silence, according to Students for Life of America (SFLA), which helped get students organized.
The idea was inspired by California student Brandon Gillespie, who wanted to highlight whether schools would practice a double standard on student protests.
“Along with being a movement commemorating the millions of children who fell victim to abortion, this movement is one that stands for all students’ right to freedoms of speech and assembly,” the 17-year-old told National Review.
Gillespie’s teacher, Julianne Benzel, was put on administrative leave from Rocklin High School after she suggested schools might treat students who wanted to protest abortion differently than those protesting gun violence.
Just a few weeks ago, thousands of students held a national walkout on March 14 calling for gun control after 17 were killed in the Valentine’s Day Parkland, Florida school shooting.
“Some schools have initially refused to give the same accommodation to pro-life students, usually saying it’s because standing for life is ‘too controversial’ or ‘too political,’” said Students for Life Jr. Vice President of Communications Matt Lamb.
“They are not giving me any accommodation at all, except for the district policy of not punishing students for protesting. That is not the accommodation that I asked for; I asked for the same accommodation as the anti-gun protest,” Gillespie told SFLA after his school stonewalled him for over a week on whether they would grant permission for the walkout.
“I really was not surprised when they told me that they were not going to give me the accommodations and that they were not going to sanction this walkout as they did the previous one,” he said. “It just confirms for me that there is a political double standard, at least in my school district, but I’m still going to be out there.”
“It is not related to school and is not viewpoint neutral,” the school district said in an explanation for why the protests were treated differently.
The high school junior disagrees, however, saying the abortion issue is also relevant to schools.
“High school students, unfortunately, do get pregnant and the majority of them do get abortions, so yes, abortion does very much have to do with high school students,” he explained.
Life Legal Defense Foundation stepped up in many cases to help students speak to their schools.
Students from many other states joined the Sacramento school in the walkout after they heard about it on social media and from SFLA.
More than 60 students at a Florida high school participated, including an incoming Harvard freshman, who tweeted his support for the event.
— Blake Barclay (@blakebarclayusa) April 11, 2018
One teacher was the only one at his school who walked out.
At my school (I am an educator, not a student) it was a one-person #ProLifeWalkout, but 1 is better than none, right? I decided to walk over to the local Pregnancy Resource Center for my pic. #ProLife #ProLifeGeneration #PraytoEndAbortion pic.twitter.com/1fLDOeQkTH
— Nick Ewell (@nickewell) April 10, 2018
Many others chimed in on Twitter with words of support and pictures of their schools’ walkouts.
— Bethany Janzen (@BethanySFLA) April 11, 2018
— mia g. (@swiftieforl1f3) April 11, 2018
Thank you and God bless you everyone taking part in the #ProLifeWalkout today. With you in spirit you wonderful life defending, life affirming people!!
No woman needs the right to have her own son or daughter killed.#abortion#stopthekilling#WednesdayWisdom pic.twitter.com/ap4OgC7uUi
— SEF62 (@Sange1962) April 11, 2018
— Sarah Burd (@TheCoolishMom) April 12, 2018
— Karabeth Helton (@HeltonKarabeth) April 11, 2018