Taking part in the national school walkout? Read this

Students across the country are expected to walk out of their classrooms Wednesday morning to protest gun violence. The National School Walkout is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in every time zone and last for 17 minutes — a minute for each life lost in the Parkland school shooting.

If you’re a student who’s thinking of taking part (or the parent of one), you probably have lots of questions.

Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images

Can my school punish me for taking part?

CNN Digital

The answer to that is “mostly no.” Students have a First Amendment right to protest, just like anybody else — but some schools could hit students who walk out with an unexcused absence. Also, if the walkout is disruptive, schools could stop students.

Getty Images

Can I be arrested?

CNN Digital

Generally, students don’t have to worry about being arrested — unless, of course, they start breaking laws, like blocking a street while protesting.

AFP/Getty Images/File

Can a teacher force me to write a letter or essay as a condition for participating?

CNN Digital

Some districts are telling students they have to write a letter or essay on the topic of, say, gun reform or civil disobedience in order to participate. That’s OK. After all, students don’t have a constitutional right to not do work.


Can a teacher schedule a test during the walkout?

CNN Digital

If the test was already scheduled and is part of the curriculum, that’s perfectly fine. But if the test’s sole purpose is to keep students from walking out, that’s more of problem — but students don’t have a lot of recourse.


Will participating hurt my chance of getting into college?

CNN Digital

Several colleges have already told prospective students that unexcused absences resulting from the walkout won’t affect their admission, but there’s no guarantee that other schools won’t feel differently.


Can my parents sign me out of class to participate in the walkout — or avoid it?

CNN Digital

It’s OK for parents to take their children out of school for the time period of the walkout or for the entire school day, if they so wish.

Andrew Link/The Rochester Post-Bulletin/AP

Do I have to stay on campus when I walk out?

CNN Digital

Students don’t lose their First Amendment rights when they step off campus, but for safety reasons, school officials certainly hope students remain on campus.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If I go to a private school, what are my rights?

CNN Digital

None under the First Amendment while in school. Those students must adhere to their schools’ policies.

Philippe Lopez/Getty Images

I’m not a US citizen. Do I still have the First Amendment right to protest?

CNN Digital

Non-citizen students are viewed as having the same rights as the citizen students they are protesting with — as least while the walkout or protest stays on campus.

Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images