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Students deserve to have voices heard

Earlier this month, students from several area schools participated in the National School Walkout.

Students from more than 2,000 schools around the United States took a stance against gun violence. Other schools didn’t protest, but instead used the time to pray for those who lost their lives during the Parkland, Florida shooting in February.

We covered one of the local protests — at Callaway High School — and posted photos of students taking part in that event. We also wrote a story in Monday’s paper about locals who participated in the national March for Our Lives rally by protesting around the square downtown.

Gun control remains a hotly debated issue in our country, reignited with each tragic mass shooting. This debate is not dissipating. Like clockwork, Facebook posts involving gun control are peppered with the same comments — name calling, debate about issues unrelated to gun control and jokes about banning cars or knives.

After posting an article on the protests to our social media platforms, numerous people commented, saying students who walked out should stop trying to have their opinions heard on adult issues, return to class and protest on their own time — and those were the nice comments.

I’m a millennial, but it’s been a long time since I was a high school student. Even so, I can’t remember being ridiculed by an adult for voicing a concern or opinion during my high school tenure.

Of course, most students in Troup County did not protest. No student was forced to take part, and a vast majority chose not to protest.

Several schools simply held a prayer for the students who died in the Florida school shooting.

And yes, as some argued, it’s true that many  students may not have understood the bigger picture, or might simply have taken part in the protest because they wanted a few minutes out of class.

With that said, I don’t understand some of the hateful comments students had to endure following the walkout. The students at Callaway went about the walkout the right way, discussing their plans back and forth with administrators prior to the event. If they really wanted to cause a scene, they could have kicked the doors open and marched out the front door without telling a soul.

But that wasn’t what the protest was about.

The students — at least the ones I witnessed locally — spent 17 minutes waving signs. There was no cursing, no hateful language used.

They voiced their opinion, prayed, and when time was up, they walked back into school and went to class without any administrator saying a word.

Meanwhile, a select few adults went online insulting those same children, calling them morons and idiots.

Remind me, which group is supposed to be the adults?