A Louisiana family is suing their local school district after teachers and administrators physically prevented their teenage son from taking part in a nationwide protest over gun violence.
Steele Turner intended to step outside his classroom at Prairieville Middle School for 17 minutes last Wednesday to mark the one-month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead, reported The Advocate.
The eighth-grader got permission to take part in the school walkout from his parents, who then contacted Principal Dina Davis.
“I used to be a big anti-abortion protester,” said the teen’s mother, Carole Turner. “I got arrested a bunch of times in front of abortion clinics.”
Turner determined her 13-year-old son had a legal right to take part in the demonstration, but she and her husband warned the boy he could potentially face suspension or other disciplinary action.
“Don’t be disrespectful,” Turner and her husband warned. “You can’t backtalk.”
Shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday, the principal notified students over the intercom that they were not permitted to walk out of class, and Steele said she told students they could stay in the classroom or bathroom to protest instead.
The teen said the choice frustrated him, and he tried in vain to get other students to join his protest.
His teacher stood in the doorway and physically blocked Steele from walking out of the classroom, and Davis ushered him into the hallway for a lecture.
“I don’t want you walking out of the school because we’re responsible for whatever happens to you,” Davis said, according to the teen. “It’s illegal to protest on school property.”
The principal then called Steele’s mother, who said she understood the boy could be suspended and had no issue with the punishment.
Davis sent the boy back into the classroom, and he tried again to walk out out — but he said adults were patrolling the hallways to keep students from taking part in the protest.
Steele finally gave up and went to class, and his mother said the school had violated his rights.
“I think they should apologize for the way they handled it,” Carole Turner said. “I think it was politically motivated.”