Organized youth are rising up. Trans and queer youth are rising up. Tomorrow, they march as they have many times before. The #NationalSchoolWalkout is about young people fearlessly speaking out about what school safety really looks like. We are listening and we stand with them in solidarity.
Acknowledged or not, trans and queer youth of color have always been at the forefront of movements for justice and social change. From the Harlem Renaissance to Stonewall to the Dreamers, from Ferguson to Baltimore to Parkland, we’ve seen youth — organizing, demanding accountability, and pushing for change.
For trans and queer youth, safety and security are critical to getting a quality education. We stand with students who are challenging our institutions and society to do better. And we know that dialogue around school safety, particularly after school shootings, heavily skews toward increasing militarization of schools and policing of students. It is our long-standing position that these tactics do not increase school safety — they transform educational institutions into extensions of the prison industrial complex and feed the school to prison pipeline. The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is fresh in our minds and the students there will feel its impacts for a long time. At this moment, we hear the very real need for students to feel secure in their schools, however, GSA Network rejects any solutions that would increase the presence of guns, metal detectors, and police personnel on campuses.
We know that any calls for stricter zero tolerance policies, harsher discipline practices, and increased surveillance of students will have a disproportionate, negative impact on youth of color, trans and queer youth, immigrant youth, and low-income youth. We’ve seen how these policies push students out of school and into the juvenile justice system.
As trans and queer youth advocates, we will continue to support youth organizing that seeks to keep schools safe for all students. We encourage students, especially those in communities whose schools have been subject to increased law enforcement presence, to envision and demand learning environments where they are supported in their academic and emotional well-being, where they are treated with dignity and respect, and free from fear.