AHS students to take part in state-wide walkout against recent legislation


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“Everyone is welcome no matter what part of the community you’re a part of or not a part of,” Iowa QSA and Iowa WTF member, walk out organizer, and senior Jemma Bullock said. The walk out seeks to bring attention to recent legislation in Iowa. Iowa WTF put together a list of Iowa legislative bills to watch. The group, according to their Instagram page is “A coalition of young people fighting discriminatory legislation through advocacy, activism, and civic engagement.”

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On Wednesday, March 1, at 1:05 p.m., students from Ankeny High School will take part in a walkout for LGBTQ+ rights, along with 14 other Iowa public schools. These walkouts are in protest of the recent legislation circulating the Iowa congress. 

The movement was initiated by the Iowa Queer Student Alliance (QSA). 

“Our goal at this current moment is to create a positive environment for queer students to meet and speak about the legislation that is targeting them and find ways to combat it,” cofounder of the Iowa QSA, Emmaline Mitchell (she/her) said. 

Some of these bills include House File 8 (HF 8) and House File 180 (HF 180). 

“HF 8 is a bill that would prohibit conversation or education of gender or sexual identity in an age-appropriate manner,” Mitchell said. 

This includes the prohibition of books about LGBTQ topics such as sexuality and gender. 

“Another bill you might hear about is HF 180, which is a bill that would force mandatory reports (teachers, counselors, and other school staff)  in schools to tell the guardians of students that are exhibiting gender nonconformity,” Mitchell said.

Iowa WTF compiled a list of Iowa legislature bills to watch.

Mitchell says it could be harmful to students who may identify as trans, as outing a child to their parents could result in abuse. 

AHS senior, Iowa WTF, and QSA member Jemma Bullock (she/they) worked with the Iowa QSA to organize the walkout. Bullock says these bills extend far beyond restricting education on LGBTQ topics. 

“[These bills] do not allow for teachers to use the correct pronouns when addressing a child OR their chosen name,” Bullock said. 

More bills restrict education regarding sexuality and racial inequity.

 “Some of those things that they are restricting are racial inequity, CRT(Critical Race Theory), gender equality, the gender spectrum, and sexuality spectrum. None of that would be able to be taught at a college level or at a high school level,” Bullock said.

At 1:05 p.m. after late lunch on Wednesday, Bullock will gather students near the front doors of  the high school with posters. 

“I’m planning on just having some speakers speak about … why they think these bills would hurt them, or just call out the blatant racism and sexism, homophobia …that the government is imposing on a lot of students,” Bullock said. 

Students will not be the only ones attending the walkout. News agencies such as The Des Moines Register, the Iowa Starting Line, and KCCI will also be covering the walkout. 

“We just want to get attention,” Bullock said. 

For some students, attending the walkout is a learning opportunity. 

“[I am attending the walkout] to learn more about the [recent legislation],” junior Eos Gustafson (he/they) said. “And also because I’m a queer student at this school, so these laws do affect me personally.”

Others are hesitant to support the protest. 

“I just feel like it’s not my place to attend,” junior Jay Miller (he/him) said. “Although I do support y’all, I’m not into the LGBTQ community.” 

There are still ways to help those that are willing and able to, but are unable to attend the walkout. 

“If you don’t feel comfortable walking out, I understand… I will provide ways that you can get involved in our movement without having to feel like you’re putting yourself in danger,” Bullock said.

 Bullock urges students to have their parents call them out of class. 

“If these laws are passed, it means a really, really hard time, especially for the LGBTQ+ community, but also for students of color, students of different backgrounds religiously or financially,” Bullock said.

For the students who are being affected by these bills, Mitchell offers reassurance.

“You are seen and you are heard,” Mitchell said. “There are so many people that are standing with you through all of this and I know that it is hard but you have got this. If you ever need someone, please reach out to us at the Iowa Queer Student Alliance and we would love to help!” 

This is just one of many walkouts that the students in Iowa are planning. 

“[This protest] is enough to get the attention that we need, but it’s not enough to make a change,” Bullock said. “So it’s the first step in a very long process to try and stop these legislators from passing these bills.”