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ACLU Backs Students Planning To March Against Gun Violence Amid Threats From Principal To Ban Participants From Prom

SOUTH GATE (CBSLA) — Dozens of students are expected to walk out of a Southland high school Friday to march for stricter gun control laws. Their principal has threatened participants with keeping them from going to prom if they do, but a prominent civil rights group has the students' backs.

"If we were involved or we walked out tomorrow, we wouldn't be allowed to go into our prom," said South Gate High School senior Rachel Iribe. Students are expected to walk out of school Friday at 10 a.m. and march to South Gate City Hall as part of the national March For Our Lives rally against gun violence.

Rachel said she got in contact with rally organizers after the principal's comments. They got the American Civil Liberties Union involved.

Within hours, the ACLU sent a statement to principal Gerardo Llamas that read as follows:

"School officials may not punish a student's decision to have an unapproved absence to engage in political activity more harshly than a student's decision to cut class to hang out with his or her friends. Please immediately stop making these threats."

"I think he was trying to do the right thing by trying to keep everybody in," said student Tanary Robles. "But I also think that he shouldn't stop us from doing what we want."

Ahead of the marches, the ACLU sent guidelines to 19 school districts across the state advising administrators not to punish students who participate.

Although the letter sent to Llamas gave Rachel some piece of mind about making it to prom scheduled for Saturday, not having it would not have stopped her from marching.

"I would be walking out, regardless," Rachel told CBS2 News.

Llamas later reversed his position, sending a recorded phone message to parents and students Thursday night that they will not be punished for participating in Friday's walk out.

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