Portland schools will allow students to walk out over gun violence
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Public middle and high schools in Portland, Maine, will allow students to walk out of classes to protest gun violence later this month.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana told families and staff in a letter Saturday that students in the district’s middle and high schools would be allowed to participate in the national walkout to protest gun violence planned on March 14, the Portland Press Herald reported Saturday.

Botana said in the letter that the schools will have a “school intermission” for the walkout to take place.

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“We are proud that our students are passionate about advocating for their beliefs. They have a powerful voice that can effect change and it is our role as educators to support them as they learn to apply democratic principles in action,” he wrote, according to the Press Herald.

He also said that students won’t be pressured to participate, and those that choose not to will be required to stay on school grounds during that time.

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling (D) said that he backs the decision to let students walk out.

“It is an important opportunity for our students. There is a lot of emotion in the country about gun violence. We need to hear from all sectors,” Strimling told the Press Herald.

The walkout is one of several events taking place to protest gun violence following the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school last month.

Student survivors of the shooting are also organizing a march in D.C. on March 24.