Inglemoor students walk out of class to protest anti-LGBTQ+ bills


Weiju Wang

Students participate in a walkout on Apr. 1st, in protest of the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill passed by Florida legislatures.

Weiju Wang and

On Apr. 1 at 10:45 am, dozens of students walked out onto the football field during class to protest Florida’s recently passed “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade and was signed by Florida governor Ron DeSantis on Mar. 28. It has sparked controversy across the nation, especially from LGBTQ+ advocates. This walkout was part of a larger nationwide movement to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“We wish to take this walkout as an opportunity to discuss why bills like this are harmful to LGBTQ+ people,” student and protest organizer Adaline Waters* wrote in an Instagram post on Mar. 30.

The post itself was made only two days after the bill was passed.

“I’ll be really honest, it was mostly an impulse decision because I was really angry at Florida for passing that bill,” Waters said. “I know as a queer kid that not every home is going to be a safe space for identity exploration.”

Participants expressed their own personal connections to the matter, primarily describing how they felt oppressed by their peers and even their parents, simply for identifying as LGBTQ+. Some said they felt “outed” at some point, meaning their gender identity or sexual preference was revealed without their consent. One of the protesters said they felt indignant specifically at the fact that kids were being outed to their parents before they were ready to be outed.

“Queer kids need to grow up with LGBTQ influence so that they know that they’re not alone and that they’re not isolated in this situation,” the protester said. “There’s people in history who have been queer and who have done amazing and great things.”

By the end of the walkout, roughly 100 attending students could be seen standing in a large circle on the field as others watched from the surrounding track and classrooms.

“We all got around and we shared our memories of our coming-outs and how people reacted, so it was just a really heart-warming experience,” freshman Grant Peterson said.

Although many ended up attending the protest, there was still an emphasis on minimizing disruption to class; the protest was held during Study Time and the school was notified well in advance. Teachers who were interviewed said they were grateful for the students who organized the walkout.

“I appreciate the students that said, ‘hey, here’s what we’re going to do,’” physical education teacher Eric Levine said. “And it’s not a destructive thing; you’re making a choice to leave class, and it’s a vocal but effective way to get your point across, and I respect that.”

In addition to the walkout itself, staff also praised the peaceful manner in which it was conducted.

“I heard it was pretty well-attended, everybody was peaceful and respectful, and it went well. You know how I feel about it – students using their voice – and I think that’s a good thing,” principal Adam Desautels said.

However, the organizer seemed to not have anticipated any of this, saying that they did not possess any prior experience with large events like this walkout.

“I was really surprised, because it was really last-minute and I was very nervous about it, obviously, because I don’t have any experience with organizing any big event,” Waters said. “I was really surprised that so many people showed up and were actually willing to stand in solidarity with Florida’s students.”

* Name has been changed to protect the student’s identity.