Omaha Central HS students hold walkout for Transgender Day of Visibility

Around 300 Omaha Central High School students walked out of Friday afternoon classes to show support on this Transgender Day of Visibility.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 10:31 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Most Omaha Central High School students don’t yet have the right to vote.

But those estimated 300 students who walked out of afternoon classes Friday to stand up for transgender rights want the unicameral to know they will remember LB574 when they do vote -- including organizer Noa Gilbert.

“I’m hoping it can communicate to our senators in the Legislature that bills like LB574, 575, are bills that young people are absolutely opposed to,” Gilbert said. “If they want to win our support in voting and our continued living in Nebraska as taxpayers and workers, that they need to vote down these bills and hateful and oppressive bills like them.”

“Seeing everyone out here makes me feel loved,” 17-year-old junior Aiden Whalen said. “Like I was saying, this is the future generation of voters and I’m overjoyed that they are prioritizing the joy.”

LB574 seeks to criminalize medical care for transition-seeking people under the age of 19 in Nebraska. It would outlaw treatments like puberty blockers, hormone therapy and reassignment surgeries. The Unicameral advanced the bill last week, and students began organizing the walkout the next day.

“Unfortunately, the argument that they use to try to justify outlawing gender-affirming care is that it’s harmful to you,” said Jade Watson, a 16-year-old junior who delivered a passionate speech to the crowd. “However, as a person who has been on estrogen for a year, I can confidently say that my physical health has been fantastic. I haven’t noticed anything before transitioning, and my mental health has been on the up-and-up ever since I started.”

These students did more than walk out of class -- they organized a legal walkout, understanding their rights and the law.

“As a student you have your rights, you still do have your First Amendment rights, and the administration can’t punish you any more for walking out because of a political reason than just missing class because you’re truant,” co-organizer Charlie Yale said. “This came together quite quickly, and obviously today is the Trans Day of Visibility, in conjunction with walkouts and protests going on across the nation today, and we just wanted to show a piece of that solidarity here.”

Students in Lincoln also took to the steps Friday to rally on Trans Day of Visibility -- and Noa said this is a day for all to learn more about transgender people.

“I’d like people to stay, take a step back from passing legislation, to listen to doctors, to listen to trans [people], to listen to the families of trans people who are speaking about how transition-related care is really just life-saving and improves people’s qualities of life so much,” the 17-year-old senior said.

“If you restrict healthcare for any single human being because of who they are, that opens up to hateful rhetoric, and it’s not something the state should move towards,” Yale said.

Dubbed the Let Them Grow Act, if passed, LB574 would take effect October 1 of this year and prohibit physicians in Nebraska from performing or referring an individual for gender-affirming care.