The West High Walkout

Stone Smith, Pawprint Staff Reporter

On March 25, 2022, Utah Legislature passed a bill that would ban trans girls from playing on female sports teams. According to the Utah State Legislature, the bill was presented by Representative Kera Birkeland and Senator Curtis (Curt) Bramble as the floor sponsor.

Governor Spencer Cox vetoed this bill, but the senate overrode it. In a Twitter post from Governor Cox, he explains, “I am not an expert on transgenderism. I struggle to understand so much of it, and the science is conflicting. When in doubt, however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy, and compassion,” in the same tweet, Governor Cox states,  “If a veto override occurs, I hope we can work to find ways to show these four kids that we love them and they have a place in our state.”

Now that the bill has been overridden, people are greatly upset. Some communities have protested the bill, such as West High School. On Wednesday, April 6, 2022, the Queer Straight Alliance and about 1000 students performed a walkout to protest the new bill.

Many West high students believed that the protest was successful, but 8th grader Ray Curfew (aka “The Galaxion” because they said so) believes that the law/bill makers don’t care about these high schoolers’ opinions. Still, he remains optimistic, “but at least we tried.”

The Galaxion stated that he attended the protest because “I wanted to speak for fellow trans kids like myself,” The Galaxion also states, “I didn’t like how people are taking away the things we love just because we’re trying to be ourselves.”

Another attendant of the protest, 10th grader Veronica Takenaka, who uses the pronouns he/she, wanted to let people know that he/she and many of the other participants attended the protest because “we have a very close community here at West, and from what the legislature has shown we are unwelcome with the passing of HB11.” Takenaka explains, “we need to gather our support and show these people in power that they are not stronger than us, and just a bit of reality, it would be a pretty difficult walk in the cold. But I think the reality of this is our support in the numbers, and especially with the turnout of our protest, we can see just how far the numbers reached and how much support our cause has.”

It may seem like because there was a protest on school grounds, staff, faculty, and/or police would get involved, but this was not the case. Many teachers who had free periods went out with the protest to prevent kids from misbehaving. Also, according to the QSA President and co-organizer of the walkout, 11th grader Sadie Nelson-Stippich, many members of the staff and faculty helped a lot with protecting students, and they made the whole event a lot easier.

These students believe that transgender youth deserve a chance to participate in the league they choose to be in. All of them stated something along the lines of, “we don’t separate anyone else, so why should we separate the transgender youth?”

Veronica Takenaka wants to send everyone a message, “to all of the people who participated in this protest, just showing our support for our trans community screams to the people in power were not backing down.”