A small but committed group of Wilton High School students staged a walkout from class on Thursday morning, May 12. The students were protesting the likelihood that the Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion will be overturned by the Supreme Court this year.
The walkout was announced earlier in the week on an Instagram account called WHS Pro-Choice. While it was unclear who had organized the walkout, some participants are members of the school’s Women’s Activist Club.
“We’re involved in politics. We’re interested in these kinds of thing. And we know that this affects marginalized communities, lower-income communities, impoverished communities, specifically Black and Brown people, more than any other demographic in America. And it’s the fact that this is really a minority issue, a woman issue. And we just, we were absolutely horrified,” said WHS student Rachna Narayanan.
Her classmate, Donna Stapnowsky, was equally upset when the news broke that the Supreme Court is likely going to overturn Roe v. Wade. “We’ve learned about this in history classes. When I saw that, my stomach dropped, my heart dropped. If I couldn’t have the right to have an abortion or right to my own body, I immediately freaked out. I got really upset,” she said.
Even though they’re not of voting age, speaking out where they spend much of their lives is their way to have an impact.
“Many of us here are not 18 yet. We can’t vote. We can’t pick our representatives. And we can’t really have a say in politics or in issues that regard us, which Row v. Wade does regard us. We’re women, we have uteruses. And we really wanted to speak up about an issue that matters to us. And so we thought that the best place to do this was at school where we have a lot of other people who would want to come out about this issue. That’s why it’s super important to us because it’s our uterus, it’s our body, our choice,” Narayanan said.
School officials knew the walkout was planned, although it wasn’t authorized by administrators. While WHS principal, Dr. Bob O’Donnell would have preferred students stay in class, he said his intent was to make sure the walk was peaceful, safe and didn’t disrupt learning for the rest of the school.
In an off-camera interview following the walkout, O’Donnell acknowledged that the activism on display Thursday fits into the district’s overall objectives of its Portrait of a Graduate approach.
“Part of the Portrait of the Graduate certainly is being active, socially sensitive citizens. To me, that’s where this particular event meets the Portrait of the Graduate. All of our students are bright. They’re articulate. They’re well informed. And clearly, some of these students are very well informed on this issue. They’re passionate about it and they wanted to make a statement and they did so,” he told GOOD Morning Wilton.
O’Donnell also acknowledged that conversations about Roe V. Wade and current events are happening in class.
“I respect the fact that there are certainly students and staff members and families that would be on either side of this very critical and important issue right now,” O’Donnell added.
For the students who did walkout, they know what side of the issue they’re on.
“We’re women. It affects us. If we happen to run into a situation like that, I want to have my own choice. I want my daughter to have her own choice. And if you’re silent, you’re siding with the oppressor. So we wanted to take it into our own hands and do something about it,” Stepnowsky said.