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North Carolina High School Students Rally Against Anti-LGBTQ+ Policies, Gun Violence, Sexual Assault

Source: Editorial Staff

North Carolina’s high school students are feeling a range of emotions. Frustration. Fear. Hopelessness. Sadness. And most of all—  just fed up. Over the past month, high school students from across the state have been using their voices and their experiences to demand change. 

In Chapel Hill, Callum Bradford, a trans* 16-year old, interviewed with Cardinal & Pine to speak out against two anti-LGBTQ+ bills that North Carolina Republican lawmakers introduced in February. He used his story and his experiences to amplify why these bills must be opposed. 

Callum shares with Cardinal & Pine that he is concerned about his peers being outed by their teachers to their parents if Senate Bill 49 passes. Experts have raised concerns that the measure would harm LGBTQ+ mental health.

Callum said, “I have personal connections with people whose parents are not as supportive and they use different pronouns and a different name at school currently, right now. Their parents don’t necessarily know and are not fully aware of that. It’s just hard to think about because there’s so many possibilities. There are parents that could be very supportive if their kid is not telling them, and then the parents find out. But there are also parents that could not be supportive, and that’s very, very scary to think about the possibilities.”

Since Callum has been living as a transgender male, he has started doing more advocacy work for those who are trans* and gender-nonconforming and now is the president of the Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) at his school. He goes on to say, “when I saw this bill, I really thought, if any time is good to speak out, now is the time.” 

Let’s travel to Durham. 

In February, Durham Hillside High school students demanded state leaders to take action against gun violence. Ironically in the same week, North Carolina Republican lawmakers introduced gun legislation to make it easier to buy and carry a concealed gun. Some coincidence huh?

Throughout the course of February, Hillside high students mourned the loss of their peer, who was shot and murdered on American Tobacco Trail near the high school. Another teen was shot during the incident, but thankfully is recovering. 

In the midst of grief and loss, Hillside’s drama students and dance company used their talents to bring attention to gun violence, police brutality, racism and discrimination, poverty, and other social ills in an original play titled, “State of Urgency”. Their play attracted hundreds of people, including many lawmakers and local elected officials, who actually have the power to make the change that these students are insisting on. 

After the thought-provoking performance, Qiyamah Hart, a Hillside High school senior and actor, told NC Policy Watch, “We witness this [violence, racism, social injustice] on a day-to-day basis and that is not normal. We normalize things that shouldn’t be normal. We normalize bringing guns to school, we normalize fighting, we normalize the wrong things in life…I’m scared because I don’t know who is bringing a gun to school or who is ready to do what because of their mental instability.”

Now let’s go to Cumberland County.

South View High School students in Hope Mills arranged a walkout to protest the multiple sexual assaults that have occurred at the school in the past year. Yes, this also happened in February.

In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, it’s safe to say students are “sick and tired of being sick and tired”. So what will you do to amplify the voices of our high school students in North Carolina? Because they are ready to speak. Are you ready to hear them and act on their behalf?


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