If there is one thing that I’m passionate about, it’s the desire to raise two children who march to the beat of their own drum.  We're talking leaders, not followers.  Most parents feel the same way.

That's why it’s amazing to me that our local school district isn’t embracing the opportunity for students and staff to participate in the nationwide March 14 walkout with full support.  There is, in fact, no support at all.  Instead, administrators sent out a letter, noting that there would be consequences metered out on a case by case basis for those who choose to participate in the walkout.  They threatened retribution.  

What exactly are administrators afraid of?  

For anyone who is suggesting that these kids are doing this simply to get out of class;  with all due respect, I think that you are grossly underestimating our young people.  

We’ve witnessed devastating tragedies too many times.  I’ll never forget watching in disbelief as the news broke about those babies that were slaughtered in Newtown.  Or watching the footage of the terror in Las Vegas.  Or choking back bile after hearing about the young people murdered at the nightclub in Orlando while they celebrated.

Then came Valentine’s Day 2018.

I watched the nightly news air cellphone video of children huddled in terror behind desks, screaming as shots rang out around them…and it changed me. 

This time is different.

I stood motionless in my kitchen, with my hand clasped over my mouth and tears flowing down my face, ashamed that it had taken seeing that footage with my own two eyes— something so vile and raw—to wake me up.  I know now that so many others share those feelings of guilt.  And shame.  

And purpose.

This time is different.

I believe that it’s just as important for our children to learn about civic duty as it is to learn reading or writing.  We need to encourage our young people to use their voices. It’s unfortunate that our school district—which is culturally diverse but also admittedly economically privileged, (and incidentally touted as one of the best in the state and nation)—well, they are simply missing an opportunity here to foster leadership while they cower on the fence.  

If esteemed colleges and universities across the country can go out of their way to let prospective students know that any incurred disciplinary action won’t be held against their admission status—our district should follow that lead and support these student activists in every possible way.  

To those who say walkouts “pose a safety threat;”  that’s absolute horse manure.  You know what is more threatening than an organized, peaceful protest?  

Apathy.  

Despondence.  

Bitterness.  

These are the traits we’re encouraging and likely to see developing in our young people if we squash their opportunities to speak their truth.  

And to those who suggest rescheduling the walkout for a Saturday, so it doesn’t interfere with school time? It’s called a WALKOUT for a reason.  There are too many parents in Florida who don’t have the luxury of rescheduling the one month anniversary of the horrific day they lost their children. 

I’m hopeful that regardless of what the district ultimately decides to do, we will come together as a community, a school district, a human race—on March 14 and use our  voices to try to speak for the people who don’t have the opportunity to do so anymore.  I am also hopeful that our district will take another look at this monumental occasion and decide to do the right thing by supporting these efforts.   

Because WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER….DO BETTER. 

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