On Wednesday, high schoolers held a protest during the third period both inside and outside of the school. In videos from the protest, we can see students holding signs and chanting phrases like, “Trans lives matter.” According to Pink News, a teacher can be heard telling a student, “Who cares? Go to class.”
Kaijha Johnson, a student who participated in the protest, said the protest began inside, but when it became crowded they were instructed to take it outside. According to Johnson, there was a lot of support but some negativity as well. “It was peaceful,” the 16-year-old told local outlet KWTX. “But it started getting rowdy when people who weren’t supporting our cause started to throw water on us and coffee.”
“I just wanted to help make a change,” Akayla Shahan, a junior at the high school, told KCEN-TV. “Do whatever I could.”
Temple Independent School District spokesperson Christine Parks told the outlet that students have the right to peacefully protest provided they don’t involve leaving the classroom without permission or skipping class. Parks also mentioned that “additional security and Temple PD” were at the campus during the protest.
“She was going into the girls’ bathroom, and they wouldn’t let her go in the girls’ bathroom because she was a trans,” an anonymous student told local outlet FOX 44. “So we had a whole protest about that.”
What’s happened to the extremely brave openly trans student since? According to Jon Wallin, a public information officer for the school, the administration has met with the student and parent already. According to Wallin, the administration and family went over the school’s policies for openly trans students and came up with a plan for the student.
According to Wallin, this policy document has been in place since 2019 and follows three core principles. The policy mandates that a student must be identified by their legal surname (last name) as it appears on their birth certificate and that they must dress in adherence to the dress code. The school must make sure a gender-neutral bathroom and locker room are available.
The bigger picture context is that Republicans have been pushing anti-trans legislation on the state level really, really heavily, especially during the pandemic. It’s an obvious attempt to distract and anger folks by raising hysteria about basic rights for trans people, including trans youth. State Republicans across the country have been trying, for example, to keep trans girls out of girls’ sports and to stop youth from accessing gender-affirming, age-appropriate medical care.
You can check out interviews and brief footage of the protest below.