A California high school teacher has been placed on leave after she wondered if her school would permit an organized walkout to protest abortion.
According to CBS Sacramento, Rocklin High School’s Julianne Benzel said all she did was have a conversation with her class last Thursday and Friday about the “politics of protest” — a lesson ahead of yesterday’s school walkouts. However, this seems to have angered some students and their parents.
Benzel said “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 insists she “never discouraged her students from participating” in the demonstration, but considered the propriety of a (public) school supporting some protests … but not others.
[Benzel] says the administration didn’t talk to her about her lecture, last week.
But while thousands of students walked out of class, Mrs. Benzel received a letter from her human resources department, informing her she’s being placed on paid administrative leave.
“I didn’t get any backlash from my students. All my students totally understood that there could not be a double standard,” she said.
Including Nick Wade, who didn’t walk out.
“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. 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,” said Wade.
The Rocklin School District won’t say whether his teacher is in trouble, because of that classroom debate.
However, the district did confirm Benzel was placed on leave “due to several complaints from parents and students involving the teacher’s communications regarding today’s student-led civic engagement activities.”
Unless those communications involved something wildly inappropriate, then, as Reason’s Robby Soave notes, if the school allows a walkout protest, it stands to reason it should also permit discussions about the protest.
Not to mention, Benzel is absolutely correct that public schools can’t pick and choose the politically oriented protests in which students are allowed to engage. If a demonstration about gun violence and the Second Amendment is acceptable to administrators, then a pro-life walkout should be deemed same.