We are sending this to show our support for those students who walked out of class as a part of the National School Walkout on March 14. We believe that it is these students’ First Amendment right of free speech and right to peacefully assemble to walk out and fight for what they believe in.
This right was affirmed in the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, where Justice Abe Fortas read, in the majority opinion, that students did not lose their First Amendment right to freedom of speech when they enter the school building. This opinion also stated that students have the right to peacefully protest as long as it did not interfere with the “operation of the school.”
We do not believe that this 17 minutes interfered with the education of these students, in fact we believe it only enhanced this education. The point of the public school system is to teach students to become good citizens and to be active in our political system. There is no greater way to be active in our political system than to protest and speak up for what you believe in. We believe by telling these students that they could not partake in the walkout you are telling them that peaceful protest is not OK and that they do not have their First Amendment rights in your school.
To be clear, we are not pressing any political opinion as it comes to gun control or school safety with this letter, we are simply stating that we believe that you, as a school, are infringing on the First Amendment rights of students as affirmed in the case Tinker v. Des Moines.