When Elsa Fluss' son, Carson, texted her on Wednesday morning asking what her reaction would be if he got suspended for participating in the , she responded quickly.
"I told him, 'I don't know, buy you a pony?'" Fluss, 36, tells GoodHousekeeping.com with a laugh. "I was kidding, but the sentiment was true. I wasn't going to punish my kid for looking around at what's happening in the world and understanding it, and then trying to make the world a better place! I was so proud of them."
Carson, a transgender eighth grader, and his younger sister Bekah, a sixth-grader who identifies as non-binary, decided to participate in the walkout a few weeks ago after reading about it online. They planned to leave their schools at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes — one minute for each of the victims gunned down in the February 14th massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — to take a stand for stricter gun control laws. But when a rumor began circulating around school that it could result in a suspension from school, they got worried.
"I told them to go ahead and do [the walkout] if this is what they want to do," Fluss says. "I was like 'Hey, if you decide that you want to walk out, if we can figure it out, I'll make sure you don't get in trouble.'"
Fluss says Carson and Bekah indeed participated in today's walk out — and even helped make their demonstrations run more smoothly.
"Carson texted me at the walkout and was bothered by kids who were disrespectful, saying they were just doing it to get out of class," she says. "He wanted to ask the principal if he could use the bullhorn to get their attention to remember why [they were demonstrating]."
This wasn't their first protest, says Fluss. Both Carson and Bekah have participated in women's marches. "I think for both of them, their activism on that end is more to protect other people that they see being bullied and torn down, even though they've both experienced that firsthand as well," she says. "They want to stand up for people who don't have a voice or the strength or a support system."
Fluss and her husband Matt Weiss live with the kids in Littleton, Colorado — the same Denver suburb where the tragic Columbine shooting took place in 1999. "I know people who grew up here who lost friends in this shooting, so [gun violence] is definitely always on our minds," she says. "I try not to make it like stop us from doing things, but it's definitely something we're always thinking about."
The siblings' stance during Wednesdays walkout was also particularly poignant for the family, considering their grandfather (Fluss' father) is a member of the National Rifle Association.
"It's kind of a big deal for my kids to be like 'Hey, you know what? This is wrong, we don't agree with you grandpa,' " says Fluss. "I'm so proud, because they're not scared and they don't feel too small to make a difference."