Nantucket High School students walked out of class last Friday afternoon in support of LGBTQ rights.
The walkout was one of hundreds - perhaps thousands - of walkouts at high schools across the nation last week that were planned and organized to coincide with the Trans Day of Visibility.
As more than 100 Nantucket students gathered on the high school football field last Friday, Ellie Kinsella, Kipper Buccino, and Sarah Swenson addressed their fellow classmates with a bullhorn.
Below are the remarks they prepared, which were shared by Kinsella with the Current:
Some of you may know me as Ellie. Others may know me as that girl who won’t stop sending you reminder emails about Teen Truth. And even more of you may know me from seeing me walk around during passing periods with my clunky green water bottle and frantically tapping my pocket to make sure I haven’t lost my car keys. And while all of those are true, today I stand up here as someone who, according to a handful of people, governments, and nations, shouldn’t be alive. Otherwise, someone who is unnatural, or broken. I stand up here today as a bisexual woman, someone who may be criticized for whom I love or whom I don’t love.
LGBTQ+ people are people, too. We are not a different species of person; we breathe the same air and walk the same earth as everyone else. And, as much as some people try to oppress us and silence our voices, we are not going anywhere.
Humans are defined by what we do. You are your actions, not the words you say. By walking out here with us today, you’re demonstrating your support, and I hope you understand that a simple act of walking out of the school—even if it was just to get out of your class—is telling of not only your character, but what you stand for. Keep showing up. Even when you don’t want to, and even when you think it’s pointless, keep showing up.
There are children, teenagers, and adults out there who don’t feel safe stepping outside of their homes. Every day I walk out of my house and drive to school without a single worry for my safety. I don’t worry that I’m going to be thrown into the wall at school. I don’t worry that someone may hurt me on my way back to my car. I don’t worry that a teacher is going to belittle me for who I am. I take this privilege seriously, and that is why I keep marching.
Ignorance is the killer of man, and it is only when we open our eyes and broaden our perspectives that change can happen. I implore you: fight for us, and fight with us. Fight for your friend who is afraid they’ll be disowned for who they are. Fight for your sibling who can’t get through the school day without being bullied because of who they are. And fight for the thousands of other LGBTQ+ people who die horrific deaths because some people would rather sit around and threaten others than mind their business. Fight. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, or how they will judge you for sticking to what you believe in. Fighters fight. And every one of you is a fighter in and of your own. Thank you.
No one should ever feel like they can't be loved. I felt like that for a long time, I was scared that I would never find someone who would love me as I was. I felt like if I wanted to find love I would have to conform to standards that were impossible for me because I am trans. And I know there are other people, some of you, who have felt the same way. Who have felt dirty or embarrassed. You need to know
You will find people who love you, who support you, who will stand up and fight for you. Whether they are here with you now or waiting for you in the future, they exist. Romantic or platonic or familial, they are there. Even if the rest of the world turns against you they will be there. You will still be there. And god i wish we didn't have to fight, I wish we could grow up the way other people do,
But some of those people think we are dangerous, and they don't even know the half of it.
We are in the midst of a war against queer people, against people of color, against women, against people with disabilities, against indigenous people. Know that these bills will eventually affect everyone, especially people at the intersections of those identities. It is terrifying. But the greatest thing we can do is to continue to raise our voices against it.
We will never stop fighting, I refuse to stop, you will get to wake up one morning and realize that you feel safe surrounded by people who love you, you will feel like yourself. On the days when your face or your body doesn’t match how you feel, know that you will wake up at 40, go downstairs to have breakfast, and find yourself staring at who you always thought you would be.
We will never stop fighting. There will be a day when we aren't afraid anymore. No more stares in the hallway, no more fear of someone finding out or telling our parents. We refuse to be eradicated. The motions this government is taking won’t get rid of us. Trans people have existed for centuries and we will continue to do so. Held up by the hands of our trans sisters of color who started this fight, We will keep fighting to prove we have a right to exist until the last brick is thrown.
Children are the most valuable resource of a country, but so vulnerable. Thirteen to eighteen—what a wonderful age. This is the perfect time to form habits! This is the perfect time to make bad choices.
Kids love to spend their teenage years doing drugs, having sex, and getting into car accidents (this is what movies tell me).
We have to protect the children. We have to protect them from making bad decisions.
So we will pass a law banning all performances including “male or female impersonators”. (In case that seven-year-old boy sees someone in drag and makes the bad decision of putting on a dress).
We will pass a law restricting all education on or discussion about gender or sexuality through grade 12. (In case that middle school girl hears about lesbians and makes the bad decision of developing a crush on her friend).
We will pass a law mandating that teachers report all suspected or self-identified transgender students to their parents and to the state—we promise it’s not like 1984 at all—(In case those students make the bad decision of trying to express themselves in a different way).
This is how we keep the children safe, right? Except I’ve read the statistics.
45 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. 1 in 5 have attempted suicide. We are more likely to struggle with anxiety, depression, and—one statistic that stood out to me—about 50 percent of trans youth reported feeling depressed “all the time” in the past 30 days. I mean—all of the time.
The biggest factor in decreasing these alarmingly high rates of mental illness and suicidal ideation is a supportive environment. People need to feel like they are cared about, loved, and accepted by their families and their friends. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that acceptance at home, and that makes it even more important that when they come to school, they do feel safe. Laws like the real ones that I just talked about that are passing right now all across the country are not truly aimed at protecting children. If they were, their creators would read the statistics, like I have, and they would realize the damage that they have the potential to do.
It isn’t about protecting us; it’s about them stretching their egos as big as they will go, grabbing at whatever they can reach and exerting power over it, controlling everyone they can control. Those who scrabble for some feeling of power by throttling the free expression of teenagers are very small people.
We are bigger. We are more powerful. We have so much power by just being happy, and living how we want to live. Bigots are quintessentially scared people. They are scared of you and me because we are young and full of life and full of a love they cannot imagine.
Keep loving. Keep them scared.