Don't Punish Walk-Out Students

Civil rights organization says their rights of expression are protected by the First Amendment


STATE/NATION: ACLU of South Carolina Encourages Schools Not to Punish Free Expression

CHARLESTON — As students across the country prepare to participate in walk-outs on Wednesday to call for gun safety measures, certain school administrators have communicated their intention to punish students who engage in protest actions.
Shaundra Young Scott, Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina, issued the following response:
“We don’t only send our children to school to learn math and writing or to get into college — we send them to school to prepare to become engaged public citizens. There could be no better learning opportunity for how to engage in civil society than to stand up for what you believe in, to call on elected officials to live up to their obligation to constituents, and to organize for the change you want to see in the world.
“And not only are these young people’s actions admirable, they are protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled long ago that civil rights do not end at the schoolhouse gate. Therefore, schools have no legal basis to punish students for protest differently for protest than they do for other reasons. We encourage all South Carolina educators and administrators to respect our students’ constitutional rights and celebrate their activism.”

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