For the second time in thirty days, students staged a walkout from their classes to protest. While the first on March 14 advocated for more gun control legislation, Wednesday’s protested against legal abortion and government funding of organizations like Planned Parenthood. While both can be seen as noble causes depending on what side of an issue one is on, the student walkout culture needs to be curtailed and quickly.
At more than 200 high schools (and 80 colleges) across America on Wednesday, pro-life students walked out of their classes to protest abortion in the United States. It was organized after a California high school teacher, Julianne Benzel, was placed on leave for questioning the double standard of school administrators and staff allowing the March 14 student walkout over gun control. Benzel asked her students if they thought the schools would allow a walkout for something like protesting abortion. A fair question for students to consider, in context. To see if a double standard would be applied, one of her students put the pro-life walkout plan into place.
As a lifelong defender of the pro-life cause, in theory, I like the idea of pro-life students getting together to stand against an issue they believe is immoral, in addition to receiving the blessing of the government.
But a walkout culture is a non-starter.
Walking out of class in protest for a pet issue not directly related to something happening at the school, such as a teacher being unfairly dismissed or a student being disciplined unjustly, is inappropriate and unnecessary. Even in those cases, there are other, more appropriate ways to protest and object. Speaking at school board meetings or scheduling an appointment with administrators are constructive ways to object to issues involving a school.
These kids are not Rosa Parks, demanding their denied civil rights or calling out an injustice. They are walking out as advocates for an agenda that has nothing to do with school policy.
Just as it was wrong for students to walk out for gun control, it’s wrong to leave a job — and that’s what school is, attending class is a student’s job — to protest on behalf of an agenda not related to one’s education.
Those who walked out for gun control try to make the argument that the gun debate has everything to do with their education because school shootings happen and they don’t feel safe. But that is a narrative pushed by the media and adults which simply doesn’t hold up upon closer examination of the facts.
Some students may feel unsafe, but it doesn’t mean they are unsafe. Students are safer at school now than they were before the Columbine shooting. They’re safer at school than in a car, as well as nearly every other place they are outside of school hours. Heck, they’re certainly safer at school than the unborn babies their pro-life counterparts stood up for by walking out. It’s true. With an average of 4 million babies born each year in the United States since 2000 and an estimated one million plus abortions performed each of those same years, roughly a quarter of this generation’s contemporaries never made it to school age before their lives were snuffed out.
These issues are important, to be sure. But being activists during school hours when one should be learning the basics required to be a productive citizen in American society is inappropriate and untenable. The adults employed by the school have a responsibility to remind parents and students of this and enforce school rules, not promote walkouts or remain passive as activist groups try to hijack the learning environment.
If this continues, the adults will lose control of when and for what students simply walk out of class as they have set a precedent that there will be little reprimand or punishment in doing so.
School administrators, boards, and staff opened a Pandora’s Box for a smorgasbord of pet issues as a reason to leave class. Benzel wasn’t wrong to ask her students to think about what message schools were sending by allowing students to leave their classes to protest.
But consistency would mean students also shouldn’t walk out to make a point about the double standard.