Students across the country walked out of their classrooms Wednesday to protest the gun violence epidemic that has plagued American schools for years — most recently with the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. As students speak out, experienced free-speech organizations are reaching out to help. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) have even published a free comic written and illustrated by cartoonist Kai Texel titled Be Heard!, which outlines the rights of student protesters and giving tips on best practices.
The comic opens with two young women making protest signs. When one girl starts to write an expletive on her sign, the other advises that profanity could clash with specific school rules. Over the course of the short story, the young activists realize they need to coordinate with other students to make sure their school has as little justification as possible to punish them for protesting. As proclaimed by the protest signs in the comic’s final panel, “behavior can be punished. Ideas can’t.”
“In the U.S., freedom of speech is paramount. The First Amendment states that you can’t be arrested for saying things the government doesn’t like,” Neil Gaiman, co-chair of the CBLDF’s advisory board, said in a statement. “It’s important that students everywhere know that they have the right to be heard. This comic will help provide them with practical tools to raise their voice.”
Check out Be Heard! in full below, or for free at the CBLDF’s website.