Everything to know about today's National School Walkout

Monday, March 19, 2018

Students, teachers, parents and administrators across the country have been invited to take part in a National School Walkout in a call on the U.S. government to pass stricter gun control laws.

The ENOUGH National School Walkout will take place today, exactly one month after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.

The event will be at 10 a.m. across every time zone and last 17 minutes -- one minute for each of the victims gunned down in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The walkout is organized by young people working with Women's March Youth Empower.

Women's March Youth Coordinator Tabitha St. Bernard Jacobs, one of the few adults helping with the youth-led movement, told ABC News that while today's walkout is in reaction to the Parkland shooting, the event is about calling out gun violence.

St. Bernard Jacobs said it is a way to call attention to the kind of gun violence that exists not just in schools, but everyday gun violence, like shootings that hurt communities of color or cities like Chicago.

Students across the country have said they would join, as well as groups from schools as far as Ireland, Switzerland and Israel.

How participants spend the 17 minutes of the walkout is up to them. Some people are doing a lie-in, while others are holding rallies, St. Bernard Jacobs said.

This isn't a protest against schools but a way to encourage school administrators to help students "amplify their voices," she said.

She added, "Some schools are looking to this as an opportunity to really educate their young people about what it means in this moment to be engaged."

Today's event is just one of many student walkouts erupting throughout the United States as a new generation of youth advocates lead a fierce push for tougher gun laws. While many school districts are supportive of the protests, some schools have reportedly threatened to punish students participating in walkouts.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said schools can punish students for missing class for walkouts, but the punishment should only be because students are missing school; it cannot be a harsher punishment because the students participated in a protest.

Dozens of colleges and universities have said they won't penalize applicants who are peaceful student protesters. Brown University, for example, posted on Twitter, "Applicants to Brown: Expect a socially conscious, intellectually independent campus where freedom of expression is fundamentally important. You can be assured that peaceful, responsible protests against gun violence will not negatively impact decisions on admission to Brown."

For St. Bernard Jacobs, "That's very encouraging," she said. "This is a moment for youth to find their voice."

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