Across Fairfax County and Virginia, thousands of students walked out today (Tuesday) in protest of proposed state policies that would limit schools’ ability to support transgender and other gender-nonconforming students.
Students from more than 90 schools, including nearly 30 in Fairfax County, took a stand against policies introduced earlier this month by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin regulating everything from which bathroom a student can use to the definition of “the phrase ‘transgender student.'”
The walkout protests were organized by the Pride Liberation Project, a student-led organization that advocates for the LQBTQ+ community in schools. The group aims to persuade the governor to revoke the draft policies, which are now open for public comment through Oct. 26.
Tens of thousands of students walked out of Virginia's schools today to say Queer students belong in our school systems.
Our demand is simple: revoke the draft guidelines.
It's time we let everyone, including students, have a voice in our education – not just a vocal minority. pic.twitter.com/ZRNPmsdqvb
— Pride Liberation Project (@PrideLiberation) September 27, 2022
Since the policies were announced more than a week ago, local school districts, board members, and elected officials have questioned and overwhelmingly come out against policies that would severely curtail the rights of and support that school districts can give transgender students.
Fairfax County Public Schools said last week that it was “reviewing” the proposed policies and reiterated a commitment to supporting LGBTQ students.
Today, though, it was students’ turn to make their voices heard.
At West Potomac High School in Belle Haven, an estimated 1,000 students walked out at 10 a.m. in protest. They filed into bleachers on the football field, while speakers shared their experiences and why they personally would be affected by the new policies.
“As a trans [person], I have been discriminated against for my gender identity and was told it was wrong. That I was wrong,” said a West Potomac High School senior. “These policies are just a new case of this happening.”
“I can’t be a student if I don’t know what name my teacher is going to call me,” said another student.
Mara Surovell, one of the lead organizers for the West Potomac High School walkout, hopes it will encourage Youngkin to not implement the policies or, at the very least, allow school districts the authority to continue to implement their own guidance.
“Most of my friends are transgender and my sister is also transgender. So it affects all people I love. And I don’t want any of my friends to feel like school is an unsafe place,” Surovell told FFXnow. “I don’t want to see…their mental health plummet because of these policies, and I really just want them to feel safe and loved, and I don’t think that’ll happen if these policies get approved.”
Students involved in walkouts at South Lakes High School in Reston and Marshall High School in Idylwood shared similar thoughts.
Rishi Chandra, a South Lakes junior, said that he has personally seen how well trans and nonbinary students can do in school when they feel safe, but if the new policies get approved, they will “harm queer students.” Read More
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