Lawsuit Over Student Gun Walkout Settled

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

I’m sure you remember the national school walkout in support of gun control a few years ago. All over the country, students walked out of class to show their support for gun control in the wake of the Parkland shooting. It was taken as a sign that America’s young people supported gun control by the mainstream media.

I took it as a sign that kids will latch onto anything to get out of class.

However, in 2018, I wrote about a young woman named Madison Oster who wanted to share a pro-gun message during the same event. Here’s what I said then:

It was one thing to allow students to protest. It was another to essentially put the school administration’s stamp of approval on them.

However, the defense always came back to free speech, which is fine, as long as everyone’s speech is respected.

While some school districts also allowed dissenting views to voice their opinions, that wasn’t nearly as universal. Now, one school is in hot water because it didn’t.

An Illinois high school student has sued her school for discrimination, saying teachers and fellow students harassed her when she tried to bring pro-gun signs to a gun control walkout after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Madison Oster, 16, and her father, Jeremy, say school officials in Hononegah Community High School District 207 forced her to protest well away from the main walkout in March — part of a national day of action by gun control advocates.

When Madison asked why she was shunted aside, she said, school Executive Associate Principal Chad Dougherty told her officials feared the pro-gun students would “disturb the peace” and “start a fight.”

“When Madison persisted, Dougherty eventually relented, ushering them across the parking lot, to the football field, and through the gate with a sarcastic bow,” the Oster family says in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Second Amendment supporters say they have been given second-class treatment as the political debate has heated up since the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 dead.

Students and adults who support gun control have earned extensive attention from the press and support from many school officials, who let them skip class for rallies.

In other words, Madison Oster was told she couldn’t take part because she didn’t have the right opinions, then mocked because she stood her ground.

Oster filed a lawsuit over her treatment.

Frankly, she should have. What the school did was beyond disgusting. Free speech applies to everyone. If you’re going to allow students to walk out–and in some places, it was all but mandatory–then you have to let them speak their own minds, not just parrot those you think they should have.

Oster stood her ground and demanded equal treatment. That’s something far too few adults have the guts to do, yet she did it.

So why am I bringing it up now, years later?

Well, Oster and the school system have reached a settlement.

The Hononegah School Board of Education and a former student agree on a $35,000 settlement in a 2018 federal lawsuit.

The agreement was reportedly reached on June 16th, but it’s still an important win.

Yes, it’s a settlement rather than an outright win, but it suggests that the school system knew they screwed up by the numbers. Which, of course, they did.

They likely would have gone to court if they felt the school did everything by the book. The problem was, their attorneys probably pointed out that there was no chance in hell they were going to win this one. Settling and making it go away with the least expensive option.

Like I’ve said, free speech is great, but it has to be equal. If students were going to take part in an anti-gun protest–and encouraged to participate in some cases–then Oster should have been free to take a different position regardless of what the school administration personally felt about it.

When they didn’t, they brought this fiasco upon themselves.

Granted, it’s only $35,000, but it’s still an acknowledgement that they screwed up.

I’d like to congratulate Oster and her family on their win, but especially on her courage to stand up for the Second Amendment and the truth. In this day and age, that really is a revolutionary act.