Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh students join national walkouts against legislative attacks on LGBTQ youth

Jordana Rosenfeld Mar 11, 2022 18:17 PM
CP Photo: Lucy Chen
Pittsburgh students protest in Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh on Fri., March 11, 2022.
On March 11, dozens of Pittsburgh students joined the national wave of middle and high schoolers walking out of school in protest of recent legislative attacks against LGBTQ youth.

Around 60 young people gathered in Market Square to express their anger about recent laws or bills in states nationwide, including Florida, Texas, Iowa, Idaho, and West Virginia, that seek to limit or deny LGBTQ youth’s access to various spheres of public life, like gender-affirming health care and organized sports, and to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ youth negatively impacted by that anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Participants presumably came from middle and high schools, although organizers declined to speak with Pittsburgh City Paper. Organizers encouraged attendees to form a circle in the middle of Market Square, and several individuals addressed the group from the center of the circle.

Speakers repeatedly highlighted the higher rates of mental health conditions and deaths by suicide documented in LGBTQ youth and the heightened danger experienced by trans youth of color due to homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, and racism. Student speakers also described their experiences of being misgendered and deadnamed at school.

CP Photo: Lucy Chen
Pittsburgh students protest in Downtown Pittsburgh on Fri., March 11, 2022.
“Our LGBT+ youth and our BIPOC youth need to know that there is nothing wrong with being who we are,” said a representative of the Black and trans-led organization TransYOUniting, who also addressed the circle.

The group collectively recited names of Black trans women who were recently murdered or died under suspicious circumstances. The list included three Pa. women, Tatiana Hall, Aaliyah Johnson, and Amari Lei. The crowd also said the names of several Black people who were killed by police or died in police custody, including Antwon Rose II, Sandra Bland, and George Floyd.

At one point, the speaker asked those assembled to, if they felt comfortable, raise their hand if they are queer. Almost everyone in the circle raised their hand.

“And when you’re at school, do you feel supported?” the speaker asked.

Several in the circle shouted, “No!”

The question, “When you go to class, do you feel safe?” garnered the same response.

After the rally, organizers led students on a march down Liberty Avenue.