March for Our Lives: How Educators Can Support Student Activists
Students have been endlessly fighting for violence to be addressed in their schools so that they can feel safer in an environment that is meant for knowledge and growth. As the March for Our Lives demands safety in schools through nonviolent protest surrounding gun violence, it is critical for educators to continue to engage in conversations and actions that can create change in whatever capacity you can.
Reading about the history of nonviolent protest can help you be better prepared to facilitate conversations with your students, and to have context for the March for Our Lives.
When possible, structuring lesson time around these topics will help your students to better understand and process the protests and activism they’re seeing in the media.
- Gandhi and the Non-Violent Protest Movement in India- Minnesota Historical Society (Grades 9-12)
- The Civil Rights Movement- The Jackson Sun (Elementary)
- Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement 1954-1985 - Facing History
- Nonviolent Resistance - King Institute (Grades 6-12)
- Peaceful Protests- PBS (Grades 9-12)
- Committing to Nonviolence: A Lesson from Viva La Casa and The Mighty Times Children’s March: Teacher’s Guide - Teaching Tolerance (Grade 6-12)
- Non-Violent Resistance - Teachers Without Borders
You’re in our networks because you’re committed to your students’ safety and well-being. Here are some actions you can take to serve them during this time. If you are near a local GLSEN Chapter, especially GLSEN Northern Virginia or GLSEN Maryland, reach out to them if you’re interested in supporting the March in person.
- Talk with your students and ask for ways to support them, whether they are planning to engage in activism action or not.
- Share GLSEN’s Quick Guide to Meeting with Decision Makers with students hoping to meet with administration, school boards, and politicians.
- Have a teach-in about Knowing Your Rights Around Free Speech In Public Schools
- Find out about the laws in your school, district, and state and advocate for policy changes around student and school safety.
- If you can, discuss safety tips for non-violent protests with your students:
- Game planning and going with friends.
- Having an emergency number written down.
- Have an exit plan.
- Tell a supportive educator.
- Tell a parent or guardian.
- Have a conversations around safety of folks with marginalized identities during non-violent protests.
- Discuss: What To Do If Your Rights Are Violated At A Demonstration Or Protest
The world has been asking too much of educators for too long. For many of us, some of the suggestions and responses have exacerbated that point beyond imagination. Remember that while you are supporting your students, someone should also be supporting you. Take time to decompress and find joy each night; your students are depending on you and your energy each morning.
As the students are showing us, we can't wait for the next shooting. We must make our voices heard and rise up to demand action to create the schools and communities our world needs and deserves.
Becca Mui is GLSEN's Education Manager.