A national school walkout is happening on Wednesday, March 14th at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes (one minute for each of the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School).
Walking out is an act of civil disobedience and many schools and municipalities have tried to threaten protesting students. In many cases, their threats are not legal, so here's what you need to know:
Whether students have the right to protest has been long debated, but today's standard can be traced back to the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines. Mary Beth Tinker was 13 years old when she and a couple of friends decided to wear black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War in 1965. The school board found out about the protest and passed a ban. Mary Beth was asked to remove the armband and was sent home when she refused.
So the students took their argument to court and on February 24, 1969, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the school gate." First amendment rights apply to all of us, and that includes protesting students, even when they are not of legal age.
Some schools are planning to discipline students who participate. The ACLU confirmed that schools are within their right to punish students for missing class if they walk out BUT they are not allowed to punish them more harshly for protesting. Any disciplinary action for walking out cannot be a response to the content of the protest, only the act of missing class.
In regards to protesting in other ways, as long as it is not "disruptive to the educational process," it's legal.
More than 250 colleges have released statements stating that any disciplinary action taken by schools due to participation in peaceful protest will not affect a student's chance to gain admission. Here's the list of all the colleges that have released statements and those who haven't.