We Say Gay: Students Walk Out in Protest of Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills


Alyssa Boos

Senior Possum Grader wipes tears off their face after giving a speech to students who walked out on Apr. 1, 2022, in support against anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have become more prevalent across the United States in recent years. “I feel as though it’s important that our community can be seen as equal to those who are cisgendered and heterosexual, and that we shouldn’t have laws put up that can harm our community,” Grader said.

On Apr. 1, 2022, the Gay-Straight Alliance Club staged a walkout from 10:40 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. in order to call attention to anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been passed throughout the United States, specifically the Kansas anti-LGBTQ+ bills and Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. 

Senior Possum Grader is one of the GSA officer’s who helped organize this walkout, and delivered a speech about the effects of these bills and the importance of showcasing their disapproval towards the legislation.

“I feel as though it’s important that our community can be seen as equal to those who are cisgendered and heterosexual, and that we shouldn’t have laws put up that can harm our community. The intent was to show that there are people who care about why these laws are harmful, and that we should have the right to be who we are wholeheartedly,” Grader said.

Junior Alea Brian was one of the over 30 people who attended the walkout. 

“I attended the walk-out because LGBTQ+ issues are constantly ignored. There are too many laws and bills that have been put into place without a thought or genuine care for who they are affecting.”

Sheets displaying anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been passed in Kansas were available in the Freshman Commons for participates to grab before they walked out of the building. (Alyssa Boos)

As students began to leave their classrooms at 10:40 a.m., Grader prepared a sheet that displayed a list of bills passed in Kansas that are anti-LGBTQ+, so participants would be aware of the laws being proposed against the LGBTQ+ community. 

The bills on that sheet were as follows; KS HB2210, KS HB2662, KS SB208, KS SB214, KS SB484, KS SB496, and KS SB515. The page also displayed a link to gain access to more information on anti-LGBTQ+ bills in Kansas and in the United States: https://freedomforallamericans.org/legislative-tracker/anti-lgbtq-bills/

The bill, KS SB496, passed on Mar. 22, 2022, was passed by the Kansas senate with a vote of 24 to 15. KS SB496 established a Parent’s Bill of Rights, which was established for parents of children who attend a elementary and/or secondary educational institution.

This bill gave parents the ability to, “inspect any materials, activities, curriculum, lessons, syllabi, surveys, tests, questionnaires, examinations, books, magazines, handouts, professional development and training materials and any other materials or activities that are provided to the parent’s child.”

As a result of this new bill, parents now have the right to challenge what information their children are provided. 

Parents of students attending the Seaman district can now request to approve what reading materials their students are checking out. 

This proves as a bit of a challenge to the closeted LGBTQ+ community at Seaman, who might retreat to books involving representation of their person for comfort. This is another reason why GSA decided to protest the new anti-LGBTQ+ bills arising in Kansas.

“The laws create an insanely unsafe environment for LGBTQ+ youth. Not only does it show that our lawmakers that are supposed to represent us don’t care, but it also gives justification for those in the Topeka and Kansas community to mistreat the LGBTQ+ youth. The legalization of oppression in any form will never be okay,” said Brian.

Grader mentioned KS SB515 when talking about the strict teaching bans on the LGBTQ+ community. KS SB515 allows the ability to “remove divisive concepts from state board of educational policies, guidelines, and other materials. Anything involving the LBGTQ+ community (including LGBTQ+ history and sex ed) can be seen as divisive.”

“Not knowing about [the] history of an entire group of people is a disaster. The community already does not have enough of their stories heard, when I feel it’s important people know what the history is and why we do matter,” Grader said.

Bills like KS SB515 that restrict the teaching of LGBTQ+ history, sex ed, or concepts have sprung up around the nation, the most notable bill coming from Florida, which the Seaman GSA club also decided to protest in their walkout on Friday. 

A Florida bill dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was signed into effect on Mar. 28, 2022, by Gov. Ron DeSantis. This bill forbids any teaching on sexual orientation or gender identify to students in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. The outline of the bill described the education of sexual orientation or gender identidy as “not age or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance to state standards.”

Grader and many other people in the LGBTQ+ community have taken the Don’t Say Gay bill not as a sign of ‘protecting kids and giving their parents the ability to reveal the topics in an appropriate manner’, but as another restriction towards the LGBTQ+ community, which would cause harm to those who are questioning or of the LGBTQ+ community. 

The ongoing anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced or passed throughout the United States have given Grader a greater strive to fight for LGBTQ+ rights, leading them to the decision to organize this walkout. 

“I want people to know that we [the LGBTQ+ community] can stick up for each other, for ourselves, and for the community as a whole. That despite what others may think or feel about who we are, we can be proud of who we are and be proud for everyone else. I want everyone who participated, or was there to support, [to know] that no matter what anyone else might think or say about us doesn’t matter when we have each other for support, and that we are equal to everyone else despite what certain people think,” Grader said.

Around 30 students showed up to the walkout to show their disapproval with the newly introduced laws, with some participants holding LGBTQ+ flags. The participants of the walkout have decided to continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

“We Say Gay. Regardless of what they tell us, whatever restrictions they make, we will continue to exist,” Brian said.