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SLO High students rally for reproductive rights 

Despite receiving some pushback from school administrators, San Luis Obispo High School senior Eden Lerner is determined to make her voice heard about reproductive rights.

click to enlarge SPEAKING OUT SLOHS senior Eden Lerner organized a walkout in reaction to the leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. - PHOTO COURTESY OF EDEN LERNER
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF EDEN LERNER
  • SPEAKING OUT SLOHS senior Eden Lerner organized a walkout in reaction to the leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Lerner is organizing a student walkout on May 12 to protest the recently leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the landmark court decision Roe v. Wade, which protected a pregnant person's right to have an abortion for the past five decades.

"I am going into political science as my major in college, so reading about that stuff really concerns me, and seeing the political climate that especially people my age are going to grow up in," Lerner told New Times. "It just really frustrated me that something so personal and important to women, to have rights to their own bodies, whether that's about abortion or contraceptives ... that that might be taken away."

After reading about the leaked court opinion in the news, Lerner went to school and knew she "had to do something," she said. After speaking with the school principal and the Associated Student Body, she decided on a walkout during third period on May 12. But Principal Rollin Dickinson didn't give his stamp of approval on the idea.

"I talked to him personally for about 10 or 20 minutes about it," Lerner said. "He basically just gave every possible negative scenario that could happen, which included me not being able to walk [at graduation] or getting suspended or students being rowdy when they're out. I just had to defend each claim that he had with a positive outcome."

Dickinson's main concern was that a walkout would be disruptive to instructional time, Lerner said, and she heard from a staff member that teachers were instructed to mark students who walked out as "cuts" on attendance.

"When he said it would be disruptive towards class, I just used those exact words," Lerner said. "I said, 'OK, what they're doing right now with the Supreme Court is disruptive to women's rights, so it must be a disruptive protest to get attention, to realize how disgusting all of this is.' He was like, 'OK,' and then he walked away."

Dickinson didn't respond to New Times' request for comment before press time.

Lerner said she hopes the protest will help spread awareness and educate her peers about the issues at hand.

"With walkouts, probably half the students that are going to leave class are leaving because [they want] to leave class and not because they want to protest against the overturn of Roe v. Wade," Lerner said. "I'm trying to use that as an advantage rather than a disadvantage, and those students that are leaving, maybe not knowing why they're leaving, will learn at the protest that it's for women's rights."

—Malea Martin

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