An Ohio high school student was suspended for refusing to participate in a walkout protesting gun violence last week. Hilliard Davidson High School Senior Jacob Shoemaker said he was presented with a choice, he could either participate in the walkout or he could go to the school library where other students who refused to participate in the walkout were to spend their time during that time.
Shoemaker felt spending that time in the library would be making just as much of a political statement as walking out of the school would. So instead, he chose to remain in his classroom. Shoemaker said he was suspended after being warned by several school administrators about the unacceptableness of that option. He was suspended for the remainder of the day that the protest took place, as well as one additional day.
The suspension notice Shoemaker was issued read “Student refused to follow instructions after being warned repeatedly by several administrators. Student not permitted on school property.”
In a statement, the school explained their objection to Shoemaker’s remaining alone in the classroom as a safety issue. “As a district we are required to supervise students during the school day. We not leave students unattended in classrooms. This is the same practice our district implements when students opt out of other school programs or activities. We provide an alternative, supervised location,” the statement read.
Students across the nation walked out of class last Wednesday demanding action on the part of lawmakers in Washington D.C., and in state capitals, to stem the tide of gun violence on school campuses across the country.
A 17-minute walkout began at 10 a.m. in each time zone across the country, a tribute to the seventeen people – most of them students – who were killed in a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, FL, exactly one month earlier.
Demonstrations lasted throughout the day as protesters marched down streets and held rallies in front of government buildings. In Washington D.C., crows of students gathered in front of the White House.
Parkland students are organizing a larger march that will take place later this month. The “March For Our Lives” rally against gun violence is scheduled for Saturday, March 24. The group applied for, and has received, a permit from city officials to host as many 500,000 in downtown Washington, D.C.
Shoemaker stressed that officials at his school were “very respectful” about the incident but he wishes the choices given at the school could have been presented differently. “I didn’t like that there was a choice,” Shoemaker said. “I didn’t like that I was going to have to decide whether I was…anti-gun violence and pro-gun control, or if I was to stay inside, be pro-gun violence, effectively…it didn’t feel right to have to make that decision.”