Students from nearly 400 high schools and colleges from around the nation participated in the Pro-Life Walkout Wednesday to remember those of their generation who have been lost to abortion and protest taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.
— Devin Sena (@DevinSenaUI) April 11, 2018
Brandon Gillespie, a Rocklin High School junior from the Sacramento, California, area, organized the event that saw students walking out of their schools at 10:00 a.m. in all time zones for 17 minutes – as did students who participated in the pro-gun control walkout on March 14.
Gillespie reported that while his school administrators provided considerable accommodation for students promoting gun control, they refused to do so for pro-life students.
“They are not giving me any accommodation at all, except for the district policy of not punishing students for protesting,” he said in a statement prior to the event. “That is not the accommodation that I asked for; I asked for the same accommodation as the anti-gun protest, that teachers would be flexible in their lesson planning, and also for the availability of equipment that the anti-gun protestors were allowed to use.”
Thousands of students from over 400 schools are walking out of their classrooms today for 17 minutes to protest abortion violence, which has claimed 59 million lives since 1973 in America. #ProLifeWalkout
— Nicholas Kallis (@Kallis2415) April 11, 2018
Penn State participated in the #ProLifeWalkout today at 10 AM, to, in the words of high school student Brandon Gillespie, who organized this nationwide walkout, "honor all the lives of the millions of aborted babies every… https://t.co/wvSmpyDrAd
— Penn State SFL (@PennStateSFL) April 11, 2018
Attorneys from Life Legal Defense Foundation contacted Davis Stewart, principal of Rocklin High School (RHS), to outline the rights of Gillespie and other pro-life students.
In a letter to Stewart, Life Legal senior staff counsel Allison K. Aranda and executive director Alexandra Snyder wrote, “RHS granted permission for students to engage in certain expressive activity, including leaving class and gathering in the amphitheater, to support gun control legislation,” adding, “It may not withhold similar permission from those seeking to engage in the identical expressive activity to support legal protection for the unborn.”
“This is a blatant case of content discrimination and arbitrary favoritism,” Snyder said in a statement. “Rocklin High School’s decision treats the Pro-life Walkout differently than the way the school treated the gun walkout, which violates the First Amendment and the Equal Protection rights of every student participating in the Pro-life walkout.”
— mia g.// pcd (@swiftieforl1f3) April 11, 2018
— "teach what is good" (Luke 6:40; Titus 2) (@DarleneHBrook) April 11, 2018
According to a report at CNSNews.com, the Rocklin Unified School District said in a statement it treated the gun control walkout on March 14 differently from the pro-life walkout because the subject of abortion is “not viewpoint neutral”:
Rocklin High School approved the March 14th event since it was organized as a remembrance activity which was considered viewpoint neutral, and it was a show of unity for students as part of a national conversation concerning school safety … The request to hold a pro-life walkout during instructional time does not fall under the school district’s policy for assemblies and special events as it is not related to school and is not viewpoint neutral. However, if students choose to engage in a protest or a walk out they will be allowed to do so without disciplinary consequences, as long as they conduct themselves according to school rules.
Gillespie told Breitbart News he was inspired to organize the pro-life walkout by his history teacher, Julianne Benzel, who was placed on paid leave for questioning if students against abortion would be permitted to walk out of class in the same way thousands of students walked out of class during instruction time on March 14 to promote gun control.
Complaints were made against Benzel by some parents and students who said her questions to her students were “anti-abortion,” resulting in the teacher being placed on leave.
National pro-life organization Students for Life of America assisted Gillespie and his friends with support, signs, and contacts:
— Kristan Hawkins (@KristanHawkins) April 11, 2018
So proud of @HRcardinal's 7th grade student who led her fellow classmates in a #Rosary in response to National #ProLifeWalkout Day. Over 100 students voluntarily gathered at 7:30am to join her in prayer. #PrayerWorks #PrayerIsPower #ProLife #ProLifeGeneration #MotherMaryPrayForUs pic.twitter.com/TNRm6OzVkK
— Archdiocese of Atlanta Catholic Schools (@CathSchoolsATL) April 11, 2018
— Blake Barclay (@blakebarclayusa) April 11, 2018
— Edmund Haege (@Ed_Haege) April 11, 2018
Our school and students did nothing for #ProLifeWalkout
I inquired and was never responded too, so I prayed.
— LUCILLE (@PaperCompa) April 11, 2018
Few mainstream media outlets covered the pro-life walkout event:
— Hank Eckardt (@HankEckardt) April 11, 2018