High-school and college students at an estimated 350 schools across the U.S. are walking out of their classes to support life and protest Planned Parenthood on Wednesday.
The walkout was coordinated by the Students for Life of America. The teenagers are leaving class for 17 minutes, which the organization says is the same amount of time it takes Planned Parenthood to perform as many as 10 abortions.
The event drew its inspiration from a national anti-gun walkout on March 14 in which students across the nation left classes to protest gun violence and demand increased gun-control regulation.
In March, Julianne Benzel, a history teacher at Rocklin High School in California, was forced to take administrative leave when she told her students there’s a double standard when kids can walk out over gun control but not to oppose abortion. While she didn’t discourage her students from participating in the gun walkout, she said schools must be willing to support other causes as well.
“And so I just kind of used the example which I know it’s really controversial, but I know it was the best example I thought of at the time – a group of students nationwide, or even locally, decided ‘I want to walk out of school for 17 minutes’ and go in the quad area and protest abortion, would that be allowed by our administration?” she said.
Benzel told CBS News the school told her to stay home because administrators disagreed with her views.
“I didn’t get any backlash from my students,” she said. “All my students totally understood that there could not be a double standard.”
Benzel’s student, Brandon Gillespie, was inspired by his teacher to plan the pro-life walkout Wednesday.
“Inspired by courageous pro-life students in Sacramento, CA, it’s time for the #ProLifeGen to stand up and say, ‘Enough is Enough!’ We will no longer tolerate legal abortion in our nation, which has killed more than a fourth of our generation,” explained ProLifeWalkout.org. “We will no longer watch as our leaders in Washington continue to fund our nation’s largest abortion vendor, Planned Parenthood, with more than $500 million of our taxpayer dollars. We will no longer permit Planned Parenthood and their allies in the abortion industry to target our peers for their predatory business cycle.”
However, Rocklin High School officials reported said they wouldn’t officially sanction the event because it “is not viewpoint neutral,” like the the March 14 gun protest. The school reportedly called the gun protest a “remembrance activity” that “was considered viewpoint neutral,” according to CNSNews.com.
On Tuesday evening Fox News host Laura Ingraham of “The Ingraham Angle” called Benzel “a hero of the First Amendment.”
“The media, they act like this viewpoint – this pro-life viewpoint – doesn’t even exist,” Ingraham said.
Watch the segment:
Gillespie, the student who organized the pro-life walkout Wednesday, said his California school refused to lend its support to the event.
“They are not giving me any accommodation at all, except for the district policy of not punishing students for protesting,” he said in a press release. “That is not the accommodation that I asked for; I asked for the same accommodation as the anti-gun protest, that teachers would be flexible in their lesson planning, and also for the availability of equipment that the anti-gun protesters were allowed to use.”
Gillespie added, “It just confirms for me that there is a political double standard, at least in my school district, but I’m still going to be out there.”