Grade school and college students alike are expected to ditch class Wednesday morning to demand tougher gun laws from politicians after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.
At least 3,000 protests from Washington state to New York will kick off at 10 a.m. local time and are slated to last 17 minutes — a minute for each victim killed during the bloody shooting in Parkland, Fla., last month.
The demonstrations will range from a reading of victim names, lobbying lawmakers for improved background check regulations to registering to vote. Even students in Hawaii will host a scattering of rallies in support of gun control legislation and an end to firearm violence, according to organizers behind the Women’s March.
“Our elected officials must do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to this violence,” the Empower group wrote on its website.
For the youngest of protesters, it may be their first taste of civil disobedience. Especially if the school is less than thrilled with the stunt.
School administrators in Eugene, Ore., threatened to slap students who bust out of class for a demonstration with “an unexcused absence.”
“More disruptive or disorderly conduct could have disciplinary consequences, as it would under any circumstances, but we hope that will not arise,” Eugene School District officials said, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Schools in Texas warned parents of a “‘movement’ attempting to stage walkouts/disruptions” and vowed to suspend students who participate in the nationwide walkout, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“Please be advised that the Needville ISD will not allow a student demonstration during school hours for any type of protest or awareness,” Needville School District Superintendent Curtis Rhodes wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post. “Should students choose to do so, they will be suspended from school for 3 days and face all the consequences that come along with an out of school suspension.
More on student protests in wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting
“Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative. We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved,” Rhodes warned.
When faced with similar threats of discipline near Atlanta, Ga., a senior at Pope High School has remained defiant.
“Change never happens without backlash,” Kara Litwin told The Associated Press.
The American Civil Liberties Union has said districts can discipline who participate in the walkouts but not because of its political message, which would conflict with the First Amendment’s right to protest, according to CNN.
Similarly, students may face rallies seeking the opposite of their demands.
Counter protesters, some expected to brandish firearms, plan to gather ahead of a walkout at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, schools Wednesday morning in an attempt to show “semi-automatic firearms can injure no one without human interaction, as they are inanimate tools,” according to a Facebook page for the event. The group plans to meet at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds, which is about 2,000 feet from Coeur d’Alene High School.
With News Wire Services