GSA leads national walkout at Bernards High School

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Students protesting at the GSA Walkout

Meghan Shelley, Opinions Editor

All over the country there has been intense pushback against recently introduced discriminatory laws in Texas and Florida, and now, students are taking a stand. Florida’s new “don’t say gay” bill prevents important discussions about gender and identity from taking place in classrooms, and critics fear it will only increase the stigma against LGBTQ+ students and endanger them.

In Texas, governor Greg Abbott pushes for legislation against gender-affirming care for transgender youth, isolating them and denying them of their human rights. Now, all across the nation, allies everywhere are calling these pieces of legislation a clear step backwards in the effort towards progress.

Teens everywhere are rallied together to take a stand against these attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, even here at BHS. The GSA (Genders & Sexualities Alliance) club organized the participation of Bernards students in a nation-wide school walkout on Friday, March 11th.

The GSA club spent the week preparing for the event, donating their time and partnering with members of the Best Buddies and BHS Art Club’s to ensure it ran smoothly. Members of the club worked together to create posters during their lunch periods promoting the event.

These were then hung around the school including scannable QR codes for interested students to sign up through a google form so that the club could gain an estimate of how many students planned on participating.

Additionally, some members of the GSA who opted to continue to wear masks placed a symbolic “X” over theirs, as a nod to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida.

The actual walkout took place from 1:00pm to 1:20pm on Friday, happening during block six for students. Students of all grades participated, opting to walk out of class in a show of solidarity with LGBTQ+ students in these targeted areas.

Students brought signs, flags, and some even painted their faces to demonstrate allyship with those suffering as a result of this recent legislation.

Those who chose to participate made their way around the track to the bleachers, where they listened to GSA club members give a brief speech about the impacts discriminatory legislation can have on the LGBTQ+ youth.

Flyers were handed out to interested students detailing ways to help the cause, including important information relating to these issues. Information on queer history, links to websites with ways to help, LGBT hotlines, and multiple charities were listed.

The crowd was incredibly energetic and attentive, with GSA members even starting a chant to lead other students in. The audience listened as students recounted their own experiences, shared important information, read aloud a poem relating to the issue of oppressive legislature, and offered support towards LGBTQ+ students in states that are passing such legislation.

Towards the end of the event, GSA leaders took the opportunity to thank the crowd of students who attended, a reminder that whether members of the LGBT+ community or allies, everyone’s voice matters.

Student’s were able to return to class that day following the walkout knowing that they were helping to make a difference, because if the youth is loud enough, there will come a time that they can not be ignored by those in power.