School Threatens to Suspend Kids for Protesting Gun Violence & People Are Outraged

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The Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting -- and the many school shootings that came before it -- has had a profound effect on students around the country. In the wake of the unbearable tragedy, teenagers have held rallies, entered debates on national television, and even staged walk-outs and protests, all in the name of gun legislation reform. Often referred to as "17 minutes for 17 lives," the protests involve students leaving class en masse in a peaceful show of solidarity. While many schools have been supportive of these protests, others are working to put an end to them. A high school in Texas actually threatened students who try to protest on campus -- and now the school is under fire for it. 

  • Officials from the Needville Independent School District (ISD) in Texas threatened kids with suspension if they participate in a walk-out or other protest.

    The threats came after students at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida, made national news for their large-scale, school-wide walkout on Wednesday, February 21, in support of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

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  • Hoping to prevent students from forming their own protest, Needleville ISD Superintendent Curtis Rhodes took to Facebook.

    While the post has since been deleted, screenshots of Rhodes's statement show the scope of his threats. Rhodes wrote that while Needville ISD is "very sensitive to violence in schools" and "compassionate" to those who have been affected by gun violence, it "will not allow a student demonstration during school hours for any type of protest or awareness."

    Rhodes also warned that students who participate in a walkout -- or any protest on campus -- will face a 30-day suspension. He ended his statement by claiming that school is a place for kids to learn and grow educationally, emotionally, and morally, not a place for students to stage "political protest."

  • Even after it was deleted, Rhodes's message to students continued to go viral.

    Countless people took to social media to share their support for the students in Needleville ISD and express their anger with the superintendent.

  • Some wanted to tell possible Needville student protestors that 30-day suspensions were well worth protesting their beliefs.

    "Who, by protesting, has been bothered by threats in the past?" wrote one Twitter user. 

  • Many also pointed out that banning students from protesting goes against their constitutional rights.

    One Twitter user specifically brought up the case of Tinker v. Des Moines, a 1965 Supreme Court ruling which declared that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

  • Of course, not everyone was supportive of the students' rights.

    Many said that students have a "responsibility" to be in school, and as such, they should keep the protests away from campus and outside of school hours.

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  • Some argued that these protests are a liability for schools since administration can't "protect" them outside the facility.

    The point is certainly an interesting one to make in the wake of a tragedy where 17 people lost their lives due to a lack of protection from the government. 

    The rise of student protests signals great things for this country. Kids rising up, taking a stand, and demanding action from those meant to have their best interest at heart will never be wrong. Even if it is "disruptive" or "loud," these protests are well organized, well thought out, and fully indicative of kids who are more than willing to fight for their right to be taken seriously. We should all be supporting that. 

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