More than 500 students at Winter Park High School in Florida made it known on Monday that they do not agree with the "Don't Say Gay" bill now under consideration in the state Senate.
The students walked out of school at 9 a.m. ET in protest of the controversial bill, H.B. 1557, which would prohibit teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with students in kindergarten through third grade and limit discussions for older students.
Opponents of the measure say it would further stigmatize gay, lesbian, and transgender youth. Research from the Trevor Project shows that in the past year, LGBTQ kids who learned about LGBTQ history and issues at school were 23 percent less likely to attempt suicide. The bill passed the Florida House in February with a 69-47 vote, and is now in the state Senate; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has indicated he supports the measure.
Monday's walkout was organized by students Will Larkins and Maddi Zornek, and came after several other Florida high schools held similar protests last Thursday and Friday. Students chanted "We say gay!" and carried signs that read "Protect Trans Kids." The goal of the walkouts is to "show our government that this isn't going to stop," Larkins told CNN. "This is going to continue. If this passes, there will be protests everywhere. We wanted to get the attention of our representatives, our senators, because the point is to show them that we are the ones in power. The people are the ones in power and what they're doing doesn't represent us, especially marginalized groups."