Students Stand Up to Supreme Court


At 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10th, 2022, over 100 students left their classes and walked out of Kennebunk High School. Superintendent Dr. Terri Cooper and Principal Jeremy Sirois were both in attendance as the demonstrators streamed from the building. This student-run event both protested the repeal of Roe v. Wade and encouraged students to call on Senators Angus King and Susan Collins to vote affirmatively in the May 11th decision on the Woman’s Health Protection Act. If this act had passed, it would have codified the principles of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that today protects the rights to an abortion, online privacy, same-sex marriage, and access to birth control. Senator King voted in favor of the act, and Senator Collins voted against it. The Woman’s Health Protection Act was rejected by the Senate in a 49-51 vote.  

Over the course of the one-hour walkout, several students shared speeches urging their peers to campaign for individual rights, with many attacking the idea that a predominantly male political body should dictate the reproductive choices of women. Sophomore Hannah Roche firmly stated, “This is not a choice to be made by any congressmen, or senators, or Supreme Court judges; we should be the ones to make this decision.” The prepared speeches inspired several impromptu speakers, most of whom shared personal experiences involving gender inequality. Unfortunately, some of these spontaneous activists advocated for more violent methods of protest. Overall, however, the walkout can be deemed a success. Dozens of peers were able to show their support for access to abortions, and many others were able to consider opinions they might otherwise never have heard. 

Protests provide opportunities to express dissatisfaction and anger at the actions of a government and, as demonstrated in recent years, can lead to significant changes in society. This makes a protest an incredibly important aspect of democracy. The walkout at Kennebunk High School was an outlet for participating students to engage in active citizenship, involving themselves in the affairs of the Senate and Supreme Court. Students and faculty who were either unable or unwilling to leave classrooms were also able to engage in the event, via adjacent windows. Unfortunately, while this particular walkout was partially sanctioned by administrators, other schools in America often exercise their legal rights to punish students for attending similar events. As per Tinker v. Des Moines, protests during the school day are only protected under the First Amendment if they are non-disruptive to the learning environment. 

While a walkout during class is not protected free speech, and demonstrators in other school districts have been quickly punished, in RSU 21 student voices are valued and democratic engagement is encouraged. Students across the United States, regardless of disciplinary action, continue to show support and opposition to social issues, raising awareness about the topics that matter to them. For those who regularly abstain from demonstrations: it’s time to wake up and walk out into a world that all have a hand in shaping. 


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