ACLU Argues Student Protests Should Be Treated As Excused Absences

Mar 6, 2018

Hundreds of students in the D.C. metro area marched to the Capitol and the White House Wednesday, demanding an end to school violence.
Credit Mikaela Lefrak - WAMU

With more student protests expected after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, the ACLU of Illinois is encouraging schools to respect free speech rights.

In an open letter published Monday, the civil liberties group suggests excusing absences for students who demonstrate.

ACLU lawyer Rebecca Glenberg said schools already let kids go for things like religious holidays and doctor’s appointments.

“We think that exercising their free speech rights is conducive to their well being as well. And that this should be considered a good reason for occasionally missing class,” she said.

The letter adds the protests could be a great opportunity to teach kids about the history and importance of protest movements.

Some schools are giving students free rein to demonstrate. Others have set limits on how long students can be out of class or what they can say.

Neither the Illinois Association of School Administrators, nor the Illinois State Rifle Association, responded to requests for comment on this story.