Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) sent letters to principals and other school administrators in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District urging support and encouragement for students who engage in protests and demonstrations for gun violence prevention amid reports that some New Jersey schools had suspended or otherwise punished students for their participation.

“Our schools should be institutions that encourage leadership, experiential learning, and civic engagement alongside and in conjunction with the curriculum taught in classrooms,” Rep. Watson Coleman wrote. “The students who have chosen to engage on this issue are taking part in the democratic process at its most basic level, exercising a fundamental American right to protest. Nurturing this behavior will teach them that their voices and opinions matter, will empower them to continue to participate in democratic processes and provide an important outlet for the emotions they feel related to this issue.”

On Wednesday, March 14th students nationwide participated in National Walkout Day, leaving their classrooms to protest inaction on legislation and other initiatives to prevent gun violence with many protests also including 17 minutes of silence to honor the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last month. Students from several schools and school districts in the 12th Congressional District took part in National Walkout Day, including the following districts:

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  • Princeton Public Schools
  • Lawrence High School
  • West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South
  • Hopewell Valley Central High School
  • Hightstown High School
  • East Brunswick High School
  • Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School

On Wednesday, Rep. Watson Coleman spoke in support of gun violence prevention on the House floor and joined Congressional colleagues in solidarity walk out on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, meeting students from the capitol-area.

To see the letter distributed to school principals and administrators, click here.