PA’s walkout for transgender rights

Lydia Winstead and Max Schooley

Recently, Governor Youngkin’s administration proposed a draft for new legislation that would require students to obtain parental consent to determine what “name, nicknames, and/or pronouns, if any…shall be used…while at school,” and if the student “expresses a gender that differs with their child’s sex.” For Senior Sierra Braddy and many other students in the PA community, it was something to take action against.

“I was mad, I was confused,” Braddy explains. “I mean it was going against people that I consider my friends.” For Braddy, it was an attack on the whole LGBTQ+ community. Repealing the legislation disrupts transgender students who are “just trying to live”, according to Brady. “Whatever the policy puts into effect is going to impact [transgender students] and their school life, and really make them not comfortable going to school.”

The draft sparked outrage across the state, hitting home the most for high schoolers and people part of the LGBTQ+ community. It sparked a call for change that was taken out in the form of protest, including at PA. Soon after the draft was published, LGBTQ+ students and allies of the community began plan

ning a walkout that invited all students to leave the last hour of the school day to gather in the stands of the football field and make their message heard.

“Our goal was to make sure that not just this school, but the school board heard us,” said senior Ty’lia Richardson. “And heard that there are people that [the administration and school board] are hurting.” Information about the when and where of the walkout was posted and reposted all around social media, and even taped to bathroom stalls. “The real goal was to make sure that the draft didn’t become a reality.”

“I did not think there was going to be as many people as there were,” explained Olshanska. “I was expecting like 50-60 [people], and we ended up having like 200-300.” Braddy was also optimistic about the walkout’s turnout, “I was surprised in the best way. I was very pleased with how many people came and I hope that the majority of people that came [to the walkout] were there with good intentions and to support, rather than skip class.”

“I understand that some people were scared of protesting,” said senior Jackson Alexander addressing those who did not attend the protest. “I have nothing against people who have their own

stuff going on, but I do have an issue with the people that did not go to the protest because they support the policy that the governor wants to pass. If I could understand their reasoning, if they would explain it, that would be a lot better than supporting it without reason.”

Dozens of high schools around the state have mirrored PA’s actions with many hosting walkouts on the same day as PA, Tuesday, September 27. Although the threat of the draft’s enactment hangs in the air, Richardson remains optimistic. “I think these walkouts will not only change our government but change our society as a whole. Not necessarily just the walkouts, but when people look back on this year and they remember the walkout, they’ll remember that it doesn’t take much to make a change. It just takes unity. I think the walkouts and the protests will show people that they are not alone and together we can make a change.”