Education

Students Continue Walkouts Protesting President-Elect Trump

By Denisa R. Superville — November 11, 2016 3 min read
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By Denisa Superville and Madeline Will

Thousands of students have walked out of classes since Wednesday to protest the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.

Students from Omaha Central High School and Northwest High School in Omaha, Neb., were among the latest on Friday morning, when students at the two schools walked out in protest, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

On Thursday, thousands of students from 16 Los Angeles, Calif., high schools staged walkouts, the Los Angeles Times reported. To date, students have walked out in Seattle; Des Moines, Iowa; and Phoenix, Ariz.

“We just wanted to show that we are completely in opposition to everything that Donald Trump stands for,” Maddy Peterson, a 17-year-old high school senior at Inderkum High School in Natomas Unified School District in Sacramento, who was among the group of students who walked out of class on Thursday, said in an interview with Education Week.

Peterson, who is white, and a few dozen other students chanted phrases like, “Not my president,” “Love trumps hate,” “No justice, no peace,” and “Black lives matter” during their protest.

Natomas Unified School District is one of the most diverse in the country, Peterson said, and most students were strongly against Trump. After the election, “everyone was very scared and disheartened,” she said.

“We felt let down by not only the government, but also the voters,” she said. “It was jarring to know that so many people agreed with what [Trump] was saying. It was unfathomable to us.”

Trump, the president-elect, who defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, made comments during the campaign that singled out specific groups, including characterizing some Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals and calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country.

Educators say some students, including immigrant students and students of color, are fearful that they would be targeted. Immigrant students came to school on Wednesday worried that they or their families would be deported. Muslim students, LGBT students, and students of color feared they would face harassment, some educators said.

Incidents of bullying and harassment of Muslim and minority students have been reported since the election.

Graffiti, including ""#whitesonly,” “Trump Train,” and "#gobacktoafrica” were found on a bathroom door in Maple Grove Senior High School in Maple Grove, Minn., the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

The Granite School District in Utah was also investigating reports of harassment.

In an interview with Fox 13 Salt Lake City, two sisters, Angelica and Aylin Gomez, who are students at Kearns High School in the Granite City School District, told the station that rude and negative comments were directed at Hispanic students the day after the election.

“You need to get back to Mexico,” one of the sisters told the station, describing comments they heard at school.

To tamp down on fears, district administrators, including in Boston and Albuquerque, N.M., have sent letters to their school communities.

“This week’s presidential election has left some of our students and families feeling anxious and afraid,” Albuquerque superintendent Raquel Reedy wrote. “The emotionally charged rhetoric we all heard over the last several months was unfortunate and likely won’t be forgotten any time soon.”

Students at Omaha High School on Friday carried American, Mexican, and gay pride flags, and held signs with messages such as “Love Trumps Hate,” the Omaha World-Herald reported. They also chanted, “not my president.”

School administrators in Omaha allowed the students to protest, though they told the paper that the protest was not sanctioned by the district.

“Most of us are 15, 16, 17 years old,” Nick Koehler, a student, told the Omaha-Herald on Friday morning during the walkout. “We feel like we don’t have a say ... By doing this, students have a voice.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.

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