Hundreds of Arizona students protest against school boards' push to eliminate trans rights

Students from across the Valley in multiple school districts showed up on Friday, demanding schools protect students from far-right targeting of trans kids.... PLUS a new Eyes on the State

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Students hold signs outside Chandler Unified School District to protest in support of trans students’ rights. Photo by Yezmin Villarreal.

Hundreds of high school students from across the Valley walked out of school on Friday in protest of the lack of support for LGBTQ+ students in Arizona schools.

Dawn Shim, 17, speaking outside of Hamilton High School in Chandler, asked students to participate in a moment of silence in solidarity with the Gay and Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) National Day of Silence, before students delivered impassioned speeches about the importance of standing up against the Chandler High Union School Board.

“We have to realize we are students up against adults, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything. Right now we are all here in solidarity and we will all make a change,” said one student, speaking into a megaphone.

Students nationwide participate in GLSEN’s Day of Silence, in protest of the negative effects of bullying and discrimination that impact LGBTQ+ people in schools.

Shim is the co-founder of Support Equality Arizona Schools, the student group that organized the walkouts for eight participating high schools in the East and West Valley.

The walkout is the second action organized by students from Support Equality Arizona Schools, who founded the group a year ago in reaction to anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by Arizona Republican legislators, including one that became law that prevents transgender girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity.

Photo by Yezmin Villarreal.

Students read from a list of demands that they’ve previously presented to administrators from the Chandler High Union School District.

The pro-LGBTQ+ list of demands includes requests for access to gender-neutral bathrooms for transgender students, a requirement for school staff to receive training on diversity, equity, inclusion and LGBTQ cultural competency, and an easier pathway for transgender students to choose the name and pronoun they want to be called at school, among other demands.

Despite the generous student turnout across eight different high schools in the Valley on Friday, Shim said she didn’t feel hopeful that school administrators would listen. “One of our demands is that our administration doesn’t have enough accountability, so I don’t anticipate them responding to us.”

“We’ve sent them countless emails that they never even took the time to say, ‘We saw your email.’ And that’s not something that's unique to us, that’s something that we’ve noticed as an ongoing pattern in our administration.”

Three miles down the road, students from Chandler High School gathered on the lawn of A. J. Park. Salem, 15, a transgender student, was one of more than 50 students who walked out of Chandler High on Friday.

Salem recognizes the real-life effect of anti-LGBTQ bills on queer and trans youth in Arizona.

“Statistics from the Trevor Project show that 65% of transgender kids considered or attempted suicide, which is awful. It’s the administration's fault,” said Salem. “It’s a fight and we won’t stop fighting because we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going away.”

LOOKOUT relies on subscriptions and donations to keep our news free and consistent. For every $100 raised, we provide five people access to local queer news they won’t find anywhere else. Consider a donation today.


LOOKOUT's 'Eyes on the State' is brought to you by an exclusive partnership with Equality AZ. Check here every week to see what's being proposed by lawmakers, who are the state power brokers, and context for current and upcoming bills.

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