Everything You Need to Know About the National School Walkout

Mar 13, 2018 at 6:45 p.m. ET
Image: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In the one month since the 17 murders at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the student survivors have done what so many adults have been struggling to achieve for far too long: They've become activists, and, damn, if they haven't made their voices heard.

And this week, on the one-month anniversary of the shooting, the Parkland survivors will join Women's March Youth Empower as well as students and supporters across the country and around the world to walk out of their schools, colleges and universities in protest of the United States' rampant mass shootings and lax gun control policies — and the fact that in 2018, kids simply don't feel safe in school anymore. They're demanding Congress take action now to pass federal gun-reform laws — and you can demand it too.

This week and every day, these powerful teens (and the adults who support them) are saying #Enough#NotOneMore and #NeverAgain. Here's what you need to know about the national school walkout and how you can help.

More: What People Are Getting Wrong About the Parkland Shooter & Adoption

When is the walkout?

The walkout will take place at 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday, March 14 to mark the one-month anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas shooting. It will last 17 minutes in honor of the 17 lives lost in the Parkland shooting murders.

Who will participate?

Students are leading the charge, but teachers, school administrators and some parents are also planning to participate in the walkout. According to the Women's March's records, 2,853 walkouts have been scheduled across the United States, Europe, Central America, Australia and beyond. The organizers are asking that, to ensure student safety, nonstudents/staff/parents simply wear orange in solidarity with the walkouts and/or organize a walkout of their workplace — rather than showing up at a local school to participate.

What are the goals?

"We are not safe at school. We are not safe in our cities and towns," the organization wrote on Facebook. "Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence." Got that? Meaningful action, gun laws and violence as a public health crisis pretty much says it all.

The participants' demands include requests that Congress:
  1. Ban assault weapons
  2. Require universal background checks before gun sales
  3. Pass a restraining order law to allow the disarmament of potentially violent individuals
The walkout also opposes conceal-carry reciprocity.

More: How to Talk to Your Kids About Scary Things

Can kids get into trouble for skipping school?

Many schools are fully supportive of the student walkouts, but some have issued disciplinary threats. The ACLU's Vera Eidelman explained on the organization's site that "since the law in virtually all jurisdictions requires students to go to school, schools can typically discipline students for missing class, even if they’re doing so to participate in a protest or otherwise express themselves. But what the school can’tdo is discipline students more harshly because they are walking out to express a political view or because school administrators don’t support the views behind the protest. In other words, any disciplinary action for walking out cannot be a response to the content of the protest."

The ACLU added that while they "hope those schools recognize that even when they are within their right to discipline students for protests, that doesn’t always mean they should." Amen to that.

Is it safe?

The walkout organizers encourage participants to talk with school administrators to ensure student safety. For example, "if walking outside is not a safe option," suggests Youth Empower site, "then consider walking-out into hallways, congregate in your school gym, or simply stand up in your classroom for 17 minutes." Also, student safety is the reasoning behind asking nonschool-related adults not to attend.

More: My Daughter Marched Before She Walked — but Activism Is More Than That

What can I do?

Email your representatives, call Congress and tweet. Also, donate. Also, also, the Youth Empower organizers encourage all supporters to take advantage of social media: Start discussions about gun violence and gun-control reform, repost from @WomensMarchYouth on Instagram and @WomensMarchY on Twitter and use the hashtags #Enough, #NotOneMore and #NeverAgain.

So, in the words of our once and forever president...

What's next?

This walkout is only the beginning. Kids and adults alike can participate next week in the March 24 #March4OurLives in Washington, D.C., and in cities across the country — and students can hit the streets again next month for the next National Student Walkout on April 20.

And while you're at it, sign up for updates from Women’s March Youth Empower by emailing youth@womensmarch.com or clicking here for more information.

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