Students at Rocklin High School (RHS) in Rocklin, CA, a suburb of Sacramento, are planning a walkout to protest abortion. This walkout comes on the heels of last week’s 17-minute walkout in many public schools protesting guns. The pro-life protest, students say, originated with a teacher’s innocent question.
CBS reports that RHS AP history teacher, Julianne Benzel was placed on administrative leave after questioning what would happen if a walkout occurred for a different issue. Abortion was one that came to her mind. The story reports:
Benzel was placed on paid administrative leave when she asked students to consider whether there’s a double standard in the national school walkout.
“I would like a conversation about when is too much? And are we going allow this on the other side?” said Julianne Benzel
Benzel’s intent of opening up discussion on the history and organization of protests, an appropriate topic for history class, led to complaints, and Benzel was placed on leave. That leave only lasted two days, and she was welcomed back to her classes, but one student took the question seriously and said he “would like to see if there really is a double standard and what will come of that.” Brandon Gillespie, the protest’s student leader said the point of the protest is “[t]o honor all the lives of aborted babies pretty much. All the millions of aborted babies every year.”
Ironically, Benzel wasn’t intending to make the comment about abortion itself; it was the first example that came to her, she said, as she posed a critical thinking question to her students, as The Blaze reports:
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?
Due to the First Amendment, those who wish to hold protests on abortion, or any other matter, have the freedom to do so. However, the controversy of abortions has nothing to do with the school administration or the school environment. Therefore, it is unreasonable for such protest to take place on school ground, during school time and unreasonable to make such comparison.
Neev also said:
Abortions aren’t really anything that has to do with school or students here.
While neither Benzel nor Gillespie equated abortion with violence using guns, as Neev accused in her editorial, the fact remains that both are relevant issues to high school students, albeit different ones. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 18 percent of all abortions in the state are from teenage pregnancies; thus, to say that abortions have nothing to do with students in a local high school is clearly far from reality. The chances are that more lives at RHS will be lost to abortion than to guns. Gillespie, however, is not attempting to equate the two issues — he simply decided that a protest against something he and other students believe in was something he wanted to organize.
Neev is correct that students may hold any protests they want, under their First Amendment rights, and much of the history teacher’s line of reasoning was to cause students to consider various viewpoints and reasons. As Breibart reports, “Benzel appeared on Fox and Friends on Friday and told host Steve Doocy that the hypothetical abortion protest had come up during a class discussion in preparation for Wednesday’s national student walkout for gun control”:
I just wanted to make sure that my students were informed. And so I just said, “Are you guys aware what is happening next [W]ednesday?” And very, very few of them were. So I said, “Well, this is a brief overview.” I said, “I want you to please go look deeper yourself. And I also want you to go home and have a dialogue with your parents, and let your parents know this protest is taking place.”
And I opened up the discussion for, if schools, not only just our school and our administration, but across the country are going to allow one group of students to get up during class and walk out to protest one issue, would they still give the same courtesy to another group of students who wanted to get up and walk out to protest. And I used the example of abortion.
The story adds: “Benzel said that two students and one parent complained, and she was placed on leave as a result.”
The school told CBS 13: “The teacher was not penalized or placed on leave based on her viewpoints. The actions were taken due to complaints from parents and students.”
Meanwhile, on the The Glenn Beck Radio Program, Benzel praised Gillespie as “unbelievably brave and courageous” for taking the question to heart. Benzel said:
I am impressed beyond belief because he — and I just want to be clear that I never advocated, I asked a question, and it came to his mind because he actually understood my question and he actually thought, and he’s like, “Hmmm. I wonder if this administration would. And he had the courage and the audacity to make an appointment and see what they say.”
Benzel is back at work, and Gillespie, who hasn’t set a date for the protest, has a meeting with the principal set for Friday in order to discuss the protest itself.