This article was written by Jonah Edson, a freshman in the U32 Chronicle Club with reporting from Benjamin Bourgeois, information from the QYA walkout page, and photos from Gavin Young and Julia Fortin.
On March 8, Nate Lovitz sent out an email informing the members of GLAMM about a national walkout in protest of anti-queer legislation laws. He’d received an email from V Pearson from Outright about it and wanted to know if it was something they were interested in doing. They were.
The email contained information from the Queer Youth Assemble, another organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community. On their page about the walkout, it said, “It’s Time To Walk Out: All across the United States, queer youth are being attacked for nothing more than being themselves. Recent attacks such as Florida’s “don’t say gay” bill and the Texas directive to consider trans-affirming healthcare as child abuse make one thing clear: we must take action into our own hands… It’s time we take control of our lives. Let’s start the largest queer youth-led walkout in history that will change the tide in this crucial fight for queer youth rights. Together, we will take back queer youth autonomy, one walkout at a time.”
The first big reason for the nation-wide walkout was the “don’t say gay” bill in Florida. It was passed on February 24th, 2022, and it bans school districts from teaching LGBTQ+ topics that aren’t “age-appropriate” and requires school districts to out queer students. This causes LGBTQ+ students to become isolated and might prevent any discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in Florida schools.
The second big reason is a directive sent out by Governor Greg Abbott. It’s not law, but it says how Gov Abbott sees trans-affirming healthcare for minors as child abuse. This criminalises trans youth and supporting parents/guardians and may cause trans youth to be removed from supporting homes due to child abuse allegations.
There was a lot of excitement around the walkout, and the students that organised it broadcasted it on social media and hung flyers around U-32 to let people know what was going on. Wilder Brown, who helped with the walkout publicity effort, said he heard about it from the email Nate sent out . “Once we heard that,” he said, “we knew we had to do one here.”
The walkout happened at U-32 on Friday, March 11. Students gathered in front of the school from 1:00-1:20. About 15 people from the crowd came up to say a few sentences, one of them was a straight ally who went up to tell the crowd they supported the community. Another was Maryssa Gusan who said, “I’m tired of being told who to be!”