On Wednesday, Students across the United States walked out of schools, some waving signs protesting for tighter gun control laws.
Organized by a Women’s March unit named “Youth Empower,” spearheaded by students from a Florida high school, the walkout was promoted on Twitter using the hashtags #Enough and #NationalSchoolWalkout, The #NationalSchoolWalkout started at 10 am and went for roughly 17-minutes, but despite mainstream media coverage of students who were protesting, they failed to give a voice to the ones who did not agree with the cause.
Not only that, no coverage has been given to any student who not only disagreed with the gun control movement but also the reason behind their own protest, a lot of students from around the country feel politics has no place in a classroom, and while the students taking part in the #NationalSchoolWalkout were free to express their freedom of speech without consequence, others were subtly punished for their actions.
One of those punished was Hillard City School District student Jake Shoemaker, who was caught in a no-win situation that lead him to suspension.
I first came across a post that had an image of a student holding a suspension notice and after posting it up, I was contacted by Jake and his father Scott, their story shook me to the core that something like this could happen to an American expressing their right to free-speech.
The day before the organized walk out, Jake and a friend of his approach the principle at the Ohio school to simply ask what the protest would be about, gun control or gun violence, but to his surprise, the principal did not give a clear answer only stating he “didn’t know anything about that”.
After the conversation with the principle took place Jake and his friend decided that they couldn’t stand for a protest they didn’t believe in.
During the protest, students who did not want to take part were told they were to go to the commons of the school, which is basically a large pit right in the center where the students gather for lunch, this put the students in an uncomfortable position of not siding with the majority of students who were participating in the walkout. Essentially any student who did not participate were put out on display and looked down upon by the majority of the student body.
Feeling this would be very uncomfortable, Jake very respectfully, when the entire class was called upon to walk out of the building, refused to leave his desk in the classroom, The teacher gave Jake a warning that he would have to report him to the office for “disobedience” and Jake respectfully informed the teacher there was no way that he was going to get out of his seat to be put on display and ridiculed.
The teacher then left the classroom and locked the door from the outside leaving Jake inside, he then ushered the class down the hallway and that was the last Jake saw of the teacher and students for 25 minutes while they were protesting.
When the teacher returned after the walkout, he told Jake to head on to his next period class, Jake agreed and continued on with his day. An hour and a half later he was taken out of class with an escort down to the office to see the assistant principal, where he was given a suspension form and told to sign it (the one shown below), Jake was then told to leave the school grounds as soon as he was able to be escorted out by a parent.
So as you can see, It was a no-win situation for any student because of the way the school set the whole thing up, if he went outside Jake would have been standing for something he didn’t believe in, but if he stayed inside in the commons, he would have been seen as “pro-gun violence”.
Many mainstream media outlets continue to report on the National Walk Out Day, interviewing students and showing footage, but they haven’t covered any student’s situation like Jakes, who only wanted to express his right to disagree and not be ridiculed for what he stands for, which seems somewhat hypocritical considering part of the protests narrative is about children’s right to feel safe at school.