Every morning before my son walks out the door, I hug him tightly. “Be safe,” I say. In my head I’m thinking, ‘Please come back to us.’ And then I send him off to school. Not to war. Or a job as a police officer or a fireman. I’m sending him off to middle school.
Our kids are growing up in a world that we could not have imagined. They’re growing up seeing kids their age – from elementary school to high school – dying in horrible ways.
The kids who survived the Parkland shooting are speaking out and demanding stricter gun laws. We have placed a terrible burden on our children and it’s the least we can do is support them in speaking out about it. Today, students across the country are standing up and walking out.
The Los Angeles Unified School District released a statement in Feburary about March 14th student walkouts in response to the Parkland, Florida school shooting. The district is encouraging schools to honor the 17 students who were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by participating in on-campus activities.
But what will happen to the LA kids who decide to walk out of class and out of school at 10 am on March 14th? The March 14th nationwide school walkout is underway across the country and will happen for 17 minutes to honor each of the 17 students, teachers and staff who were killed. According to an LAUSD statement, students will be asked to return to campus and if they don’t they could face disciplinary action.
So let me get this straight. Adults have created a world where kids fear being mowed down in minutes by an assault-style weapon, but we’re going to punish them when they peacefully show us that they’re unhappy about it? I understand that the district wouldn’t want elementary school children walking out of school, but high school students know enough about what’s going on to make the decision whether or not to walk out. And they shouldn’t be punished for it.
I agree with the district that this is a teachable moment for students. We should teach them to stand up for what they believe. About 2 out of 3 Americans support tougher gun laws, according a Politico Poll, but I have no faith that the current Congress will make any significant changes.
One thing I find interesting is that if you go to the LAUSD website, a post on the front page honors the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 walkouts for student equality. In March, 1968, 15,000 high school students protested the treatment of Latino students by walking out of school. It’s ironic that the district is celebrating civil disobedience while asking kids to sit down and stay in the classroom.
I believe that our job as parents is to raise our kids to be responsible, kind, thoughtful people who stand up for what they believe. We can’t do that if we ask them to stay seated.
For more information about the National School Walkout, visit WomensMarch.com/enough. For families wanting to get involved, there is a March for Our Lives nationwide march for kids and families on Saturday, March 24th. The march in Los Angeles will be at Pershing Square.
Yvonne Condes is the Editor and co-Founder of MomsLA.com.