New Jersey student just became instant national hero during today’s school walkout (WATCH)

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To mark one month since the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students nationwide today participated in a walkout to honor the 17 victims and protest gun violence.

While students around the country have exercised their rights to free speech and protest largely without opposition from their teachers or administrators, one school was decidedly less enthusiastic. To the chagrin of free speech activists, New Jersey’s Sayreville War Memorial High School threatened to suspend students who opted to participate in the walkout.

That did not stop one student, sophomore Rosa Rodriquez, from walking out of school this morning. In a heroic display, she was the only student to do so.

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In a way, Rodriguez’s bravery is a microcosm of the larger debate taking place in Washington. Whereas the NRA has a stranglehold on the Republican Party, with very few members of the GOP willing to buck the party line, Americans are now calling on their elected officials to finally stand up to the powerful gun lobby and – for once – put children’s lives ahead of gun sales.

The American Civil Liberties Union had called on schools not to discipline their students.

“Rather than seeking to silence students’ political engagement and quashing their desire for conversation, schools can approach this moment as an opportunity for learning about civic action,” the ACLU wrote.

Regardless, countless universities have promised students that any disciplinary action that comes in response to gun violence protests or walkouts will not be factored into their admissions processes.

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The walkout comes one week before the March for Our Lives, a rally that will take place in Washington, D.C., among other cities, on March 24th. It was organized by the survivors of the Parkland shooting and has captured national attention with celebrities and notable figures donating to the cause.

Thank you, Rosa Rodriguez, for standing up for what you believe in. You may have felt alone outside of your school in Sayreville, New Jersey, but you have an entire nation behind you.

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Brian Tyler Cohen

Managing editor

Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

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