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“You’re not broken.” Park City High School students protest laws targeting LGBTQ youth

Park City High School students walk out of class to protest legislation targeting LGBTQ youth

More than 200 Park City High School students staged a half-hour walkout from classes Thursday morning to protest what they called attacks on LGBTQ youth and called for acceptance and equality.

The students gathered in front of Park City High School under cloudy skies, some carrying signs and wearing messages on their clothing. They were joined by a handful of teachers, staff and administrators who stood in the crowd and listened as students recounted stories about coming out as gay or trans.

They took turns sharing stories of being taunted and misunderstood and expressed pain at hearing slurs in the hallways at school and sometimes from people close to them.

Their messages included calls on society to let them be who they are, and words of support for peers and others.

“We are all united by our shared humanity, our shared experience on this planet, yet now more than ever our divisions tear us apart," a student speaker said. "There are bills in effect, politicians in office and plans in place to hurt us; hurt people. You may be hurting.”

The students’ actions also follow a wave of state-level legislation targeting sports participation and medical treatment for transgender youth. Arizona, Oklahoma and Utah were among states passing laws this year banning transgender girls from playing sports.

Ava, a senior, told those gathered that they’re not wrong, they’re not unnatural, and they’re not broken. You are loved, she said, before adding, “now go back to class.”

Natalie, a junior, said she was done with people trying to erase LGBTQ people from society, and she assured the crowd that LGBTQ people won’t go away or stop fighting to be treated equally.

The half hour was peaceful, with the crowd clapping after each speaker, and no conflicts or arguments broke out.

School walkouts were reportedly occurring around the county Thursday, which is International Transgender Day of Visibility.

An event called Trans March was also planned for Salt Lake City Thursday evening at 5 p.m. A march from the south steps of the Capitol building to City Creek Park was scheduled.