The story at a glance
- High school students in Arizona walked out of class on Thursday to protest a number of new state laws that went into effect on Saturday that they say discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
- Among the new laws that have come into force are two measures that ban young transgender people from participating in sports teams that conform to their gender identity and ban young people under the age of 18 from accessing gender-affirming surgeries, which do not are already not recommended for minors.
- This year, students across the country have staged walkouts to protest other laws and policies seen as harmful to the LGBTQ+ community.
On Thursday, hundreds of Arizona high school students stormed out of their classrooms to protest a series of new laws that went into effect over the weekend and have been accused of being discriminatory to the regard to the state’s LGBTQ+ population, especially transgender youth.
More than 380 bills signed into law by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) this year went into effect September 24, including two measures that restrict the ability of transgender youth to access certain forms of health care claiming gender and playing school sports. teams in line with their gender identity.
Another new Arizona law sponsored by Rep. Jake Hoffman, a Republican, prohibits “sexually explicit” materials from K-12. The measure drew heavy criticism earlier this year for initially including “homosexuality” on a list of “explicit” behavior deemed inappropriate for students to learn in school, prompting Hoffman to add an amendment that scratched the word from the bill.
“It’s embarrassing to live in a state and a country where people risk just being who they are and loving whoever they want,” said Blues Patrick, a high school student at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona. Arizona Mirror Thursday.
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Patrick joined hundreds of classmates, as well as students from other high schools across the state, to protest laws that went into effect Saturday as part of a coordinated walkout organized by the group led by Support Equality Arizona Schools students.
“Just stepping out signals to our state and our lawmakers that we as students won’t be content with passive measures,” Dawn Shim, a 16-year-old junior at Hamilton High School and founder of the group, in a pre-walkout message on Instagram. “We need action, and we need it now.”
The Arizona walkout mirrors other student-led walkouts to push back against recent legislation that targets LGBTQ+ rights in other states.
Thousands of Virginia students from more than 100 high schools walked out of their classrooms this week to protest new model-for-the-year transgender policies introduced this month by the administration of Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R). The proposed policies would prevent transgender students from using restrooms that match their gender identity and would require parents to consent to their children changing names or pronouns at school.
In March, students in Park City, Utah walked out of class to protest the state legislature’s overturning of Governor Spencer Cox’s (right) veto of legislation banning transgender youth from participating in school sports. That same month, students in Florida demonstrated against the state’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which limits how public school teachers can address topics such as sexual orientation and identity. gender at school.
Last month, students at Grapevine High School in Texas staged a strike to protest new district policies barring teachers of students under fifth grade from receiving classroom instruction related to sexual orientation, gender identity and race.
After the Virginia walkouts this week, conservative commentators called the student protests a stunt to “get out of the classroom.”
“There’s no way any of these kids actually care,” Alec Sears, a Republican National Committee strategist, wrote in a tweet accompanying aerial footage showing dozens of student protesters.
Shim of Support Equality Arizona Schools refuted that assumption on Thursday.
“We’re not here missing our school day and interrupting our studies because we want to,” she told a crowd of her peers, the Arizona Mirror reported. “We were forced into it.”