How to talk to school administrators about staging a walkout:
• Form a core group of students who are interested in a walkout.
• If you expect pushback, it might be good to have a petition showing that you have A LOT of interest amongst your student body for participation. The more who participate the harder it is to punish everyone.
• Ask for an opportunity to speak to your principal and other school leadership.
• Be respectful. Be clear about what you would like to see happen for 17 minutes.
• WHERE do you want your walkout to be staged? Do you want to gather in the schoolyard? Do you want to gather in the cafeteria, the gym, the hallways, the lobby of the school?
• How do you want to spend that 17 minutes? Singing? In silence? Reading names of schools who have experienced school shootings? Reading the names of those killed in Parkland, FL, and other shootings? Reading the names of those killed in police shootings?
• See what your school administrators will allow. Try to come to some agreement/middle ground on your walkout. It should be at 10 am (when the rest of the nation is walking out). If administrators don’t want you to leave school property or go outdoors, ask for 17 minutes of silence in hallways or the lobby. Or ask if you can stage a sit-in in the cafeteria. Be creative.
• It is your 1st amendment right to express your views. In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” as Justice Abe Fortas put it in the majority opinion for Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.
• If school policy dictates that students cannot return to the building after walking out (common for schools with big populations that don’t have enough personnel to handle a staggered re-entry), let administrators know you’re willing to speak with your school safety team and community police liaison officer to collaborate on a plan to ensure that students who plan to leave the school campus for post-walkout rallies or marches disperse smoothly and safely.