SAN FRANCISCO - High school students in San Francisco joined a nationwide walk-out on Wednesday and called for change in the Middle East. Those students are calling on Israel to change its policies and would like to see a cease-fire.
On any other Wednesday these students would be in class at Galileo High School, instead they marched and chanted, calling for a change in Israeli policy. Students here say they're watching what is unfolding in the conflict in Israel, and feel like their voices haven't been heard. "I've been trying to, like, have teachers speak about this issue," said Galileo High School Student Yousra Chouadra.
"Literally in my classes only one teacher was speaking about Palestine and two-thirds of the class didn't even know about anything," Chouadra said.
More than a hundred students at Galileo were just some of those who walked out of class after Arab students called for a day of action. Students at Balboa, Lincoln, Lowell and Washington High Schools were among those joining in their protest.
The Arab Resource and Organizing Center took to the steps of San Francisco's City Hall, saying the student activists concerns deserve to be heard. "To demand an end to the war on Gaza, to demand an immediate cease fire, but also to call on everybody in a position of power, and particularly our local elected to do everything they can to support Palestinian, Muslim and all families of San Francisco," Lara Kiswani, Executive Director Arab Resource and Organizing Center.
The protests raised some concerns. State Senator Scott Wiener from San Francisco posting to social media that he supports anyone's right to protest and that he himself has criticized Israel in the past. But, he says he wants to be sure Jewish students feel safe in their schools, saying there has been an increase in anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rhetoric.
San Francisco schools also responded to the walkout, saying it was not a SFUSD sponsored activity. The superintendent said that while the district wants students to express themselves, student safety is the district's top priority.
"In particular, I want to recognize the fear and concern students and their families feel at this moment," said SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne. "There have been acts of anti-Semitism in our community in recent days. Islamophobia is on the rise. At SFUSD, we take a strong stance against any type of hate, prejudice, or bias."
SFUSD says it wants all students to know they have access to wellness support at their schools and can reach out to adults on campus if they have any concerns.