- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2018

A California high school student is trying to plan a walkout to protest abortion after his history teacher was recently placed on administrative leave when she questioned whether there’s a political double-standard concerning school-sanctioned protests.

Brandon Gillespie, a student at Rocklin High School in Rocklin, is using social media to organize and promote a pro-life demonstration using the hashtag #life, a local CBS affiliate reported.

The walkout would be “[t]o honor all the lives of aborted babies pretty much. All the millions of aborted babies every year,” he told the station.

He said he got the idea from his history teacher, Julianne Benzel, who was placed on paid administrative leave last week after students allegedly complained about her comments on the national school walkout, a March 14 nationwide protest against gun violence following last month’s mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Many schools, including Rocklin High, made the decision not to punish students who participated in the protest.

Ms. Benzel said she discussed the walkout with students and openly questioned whether schools would be just as supportive of students protesting against abortion.

“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 said.

Brandon said he hopes to put Ms. Benzel’s theory to the test.

“I would like to see if there really is a double standard and what will come of that,” he told CBS.

The school principal refused to talk to CBS on camera, but a district spokeswoman said he does plan to meet with Brandon on Friday to discuss a possible pro-life walkout.

Naeirika Neev, editor of the school newspaper, however, is staunchly opposed to the idea.

“Abortions aren’t really anything that has to do with school or students here,” she told the station. “They have their First Amendment, they can go protest about that anytime anywhere.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Benzel said Brandon is “unbelievably brave and courageous” for putting forth the initiative.

“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,’” she told Glenn Beck during his radio show Tuesday, The Blaze reported. “And he had the courage and the audacity to make an appointment and see what they say.”

Students for Life of America, a national pro-life nonprofit, cheered Brandon’s efforts.

“Brandon Gillespie is a terrific example of the passion this pro-life generation has, and his courageous effort to draw attention to the reality that more lives have been lost in our generation to abortion than all other causes should be national news,” SFLA President Kristan Hawkins said in a statement.

“Having opened to door to student-lead walkouts as a way to express a political or cultural viewpoint, schools cannot shut that door to pro-life students who also are moved by the loss of life and horrific realities of the toll of abortion,” she said. “Pro-life students deserve the same respect and accommodation that anti-gun student activists experienced.”

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