A right to free speech, but only if it’s allowed?
A history teacher at a California high school was put on paid leave after questioning whether school administrations would allow a group of students to walk out of class to protest abortion.
Ahead of National Walkout Day, Rocklin High School Teacher Julianne Benzel said she was only trying to a start a class discussion on whether the protest would be treated the same way if a school walkout was organized coming from the other side of the political aisle.
“I opened up the discussion for if schools … are going to allow one group of students to get up during class and walk out to protest on one issue, would they still give the same courtesy to another group of students who wanted to get up and walk out in protest. And I used the example of abortion,” Benzel said on Fox News Friday morning.
Benzel said only two students and one parent had an issue with her comment and made a complaint to the administration who then placed her on leave for two days.
Julianne Benzel: “Would they still give the same courtesy to another group of students who wanted to get up and walk out to protest?” pic.twitter.com/sbV3vdkFOI
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 16, 2018
National Walkout Day saw more than 3,000 schools and thousands of students participate on Wednesday to advocate for stronger gun control in the U.S.
Students and teachers confronted no issues excersicing their free-speech that day, however, a student in Ohio did face consequences for not wanting to.
Now this California teacher has been punished for wanting to start a discussion and questioning the politics of the walkout.
“I didn’t get any backlash from my students,” Benzel said. “All my students totally understood that there could not be a double standard.”
Benzel, who has since retained legal counsel, said the school’s decision has raised questions about First Amendment rights.
“I feel like if we were to go to school and say something like I want to walk out maybe for abortion rights, then you know they probably wouldn’t let us because that’s more of a conservative push,” student Nick Wade said. “But someone wants to say let’s walk out for gun control then the school’s going to go with it because it’s more of a popular view.”