Student Walkout- A Disruption to the Learning Process or an Impetus to Thinking?

Amna Farooq, Staff Writer

On September 27, 2022, students from all over Virginia participated in a state-wide walkout in protest against Governor Glenn Youngkin’s policies regarding LGBTQ students.

This was a protest known as the “Pride Liberation Project”, arranged and managed by students. Many students disagreed with Youngkin’s new policies which generally state that students’ parents will have to request their child’s gender by which they will be addressed in school and students will have to use bathrooms based on their gender.

A key feature of Youngkin’s new policy is its definition of a transgender student: “A public school student whose parent has requested in writing, due to their child’s persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs with his or her sex, that their child be so identified while at school.” The new policies say school divisions may not encourage teachers to conceal information about a student’s gender from his or her parents. They also say no school employee or student can be compelled to refer to other students in a way that violates their “constitutionally protected rights.”

Administration of Heritage High School did not regard the Walk Out as a disruption to the learning process and that students will not be punished for participating in the walk-out. Principal Jeffrey Adam informed parents in an email that, “This afternoon about 250 members of our student body staged a brief demonstration to bring attention to the rights of the LGBTQI+ community. The students had informed our administration of their intentions in advance.  The top priority of Loudoun County Public Schools is the safety and security of students and staff. Keeping this in mind, we provided a safe space for students to exercise their freedom of expression. Students who chose to participate in the demonstration will not be penalized for their participation; as it was staged in accordance with the Students Rights and Responsibilities, we all reviewed and signed at the beginning of the year.”

The Walk Out lasted approximately 30 minutes and around 250 Heritage students participated in the event.  Heritage students had varying opinions on whether the walkout was a disruption to the education process or an opportunity to learn about a current topic:   

“Not really [was it a disruption] because it’s something that you can learn from [rather than] just being in class for 15 minutes. We are experiencing a Walk Out. ”Anonymous

“We have the right to share our opinions and stance on things, and if the administration has approved then this is not disrupting to anything. If it was taking away from my learning and wasn’t important, I wouldn’t be here.” ~ Anonymous 

Many students did not know if the Walk Out was approved by Heritage Administration and if it would actually make a difference. 

“I mean this is a good thing to do but I did not walk out because will this really make a difference. Will anyone listen to us?  I don’t think so. “Like does the governor or school board care? No, not until we create disruption in the education process, will we be listened to. ”~ Anonymous 

“I feel like I’m not informed enough to walk out.”~Anonymous

To some people the Walk Out at Heritage was successful to others it was not. Statewide, the attendance and reactions are pending.