“This is a Struggle for Life” Lafayette Students Speak out Against Recent Legislation at Student-Led Walkout

Lexington, KY. Lafayette students protest against the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation currently being considered by Kentucky lawmakers.

Disclaimer: All parties are anonymous due to privacy concerns.

Several hundred Lafayette students walked out Friday, February 24th, 2023 at 10:45 A.M in protest of nine pieces of legislation in the Kentucky General Assembly deemed anti-LGBTQ+, particularly House Bills 173 and 177 and Senate Bill 150.

These specific bills tackle a wide range of subjects, including LGBTQ+-related issues. They would require schools to inform parents when students are using pronouns or dressing in a way that does correspond with their assigned gender at birth, bar transgender students from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, prohibit training that encourages teachers to respect students’ gender pronouns, bar discussion of LGBTQ+ related topics in the classroom, ban the display of LGBTQ+ pride flags, ban drag shows in public schools, allows teachers to not use students’ preferred gender pronouns, among many other things.

The bills also concern vaccination and masking requirements in schools, parental notification of school curriculum, mental healthcare in schools, education on human sexuality and family planning, and guidelines relating to the content of books permitted in school libraries. Additionally, one of the nine anti-LGBTQ+ bills mentioned by speakers would ban gender-affirming care for minors. More information on the progression of House Bills 173 and 177 and Senate Bill 150 in the state legislature can be found here.

The walkout lasted approximately forty minutes until the start of the third block and featured speeches from the event’s organizers. The speeches were heartfelt and powerful and impacted many students participating in the walkout. The chosen speakers directly addressed the anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation and encouraged many students to speak out against these bills.

One speaker at the event stated, “These bills [HB 173 and 177, SB 150] would restrict us from expressing our gender identities and our sexualities in schools. They would silence teachers from speaking about LGBTQ+ issues and history. They would allow teachers and administrators to purposefully misgender and deadname us.” This speaker illustrated what school would be like and the restrictions these bills would have on the LGBTQ+ community.

Another speaker highlighted the importance of mental health and its correlation to LGBTQ+ rights. “Over the past three years, as I have lived authentically as myself, my mental health has improved.”

One chosen speaker told students about the harsh reality of how the LGBTQ+ community is treated. “We are less than two months into the year, and there have already been 27 fatal acts of violence towards our trans brothers and sisters from all around the world.”

Others besides the speakers spoke out and discussed why they walked out and what they believe should be done to protect LGBTQ+ students from the proposed legislation. One student spoke about how schools might change if the bills were signed into law. “What this legislation would do to this school is something I don’t even want to think about.”

Students also expressed the need for safety in schools. “Queer kids should be safe. Trans kids should be safe. Queer people of color should be safe. Everyone deserves to have human rights.”

As the walkout concluded, the last speaker said, “This is not a struggle for ‘fitting in. This is not a struggle for just being understood. This is a struggle for life.”