Northeastern student walkout protests against anti-LGBTQ+ laws


Alexa Grayson

Northeastern students filled Centennial Common March 11 as they gathered to protest recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws, including Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Alexa Grayson, news staff

Northeastern students came together at Centennial Common March 11 to protest recent anti-LBGTQ+ legislation in the “Queer Walkout.” 

The walkout, which mirrored similar protests throughout the nation, was in response to Florida’s recent bill, “Parental Rights in Education,” as well as an increasing number of anti-trans legislation in Texas and other states. The walkout organizers are also sponsoring a fundraiser for the Trevor Project, a  mental health organization that supports LGBTQ+ youth.  

Commonly called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the “Parental Rights in Education” bill prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity that is “not age-appropriate for students in accordance to state standards,” and applies to students in kindergarten through third grade. The bill has received a lot of criticism since it was passed by the Florida Senate Appropriate Committee Feb. 28, including a statement from President Biden in a tweet.

“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” Biden said. “I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.” 

Florida is just one of several other states that have recently issued anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. 

On Feb. 22, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, or DFPS, declaring that delivering gender-affirming medical treatments to transgender youth “constitutes child abuse” under Texas state law. The letter affirmed that doctors, nurses and teachers are required by law to report parents who are aiding their children in receiving gender-affirming care to the DFPS, claiming child abuse. 

Beyond Florida and Texas, states including Georgia, Idaho and Tennessee currently have anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the works.  

The walk-out at Northeastern was organized by undergraduate students Natalie DeLaCruz, Greta Magendantz and Naomi Trevino to show that the LGBTQ+ community at Northeastern and  is loved and supported. 

The walkout was filled with students cheering loudly, “Say gay!” and “Gay won’t go away!” as they waved rainbow flags in the air, beaming with pride. High-energy songs blasted from speakers, including songs by Hayley Kiyoko, a singer-songwriter referred to by many fans as “lesbian Jesus.” 

Natalie DeLaCruz, a first-year political science and human services combined major, said the importance of the walkout is to stand in solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community at Northeastern and beyond.

“I organized this walkout to protest the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and anti-trans legislation,” DeLaCruz said. “We want people to know that the LGBTQ+ community here is strong. We are loud. There is love and support here. We support LGBTQ+ youth across the country.”

DeLaCruz gave a speech at the protest, urging students to continue to stand up against unjust laws in Florida and all over the country. She called out the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, arguing that students of all ages should be allowed to ask teachers questions regarding gender identity and sexual orientation.

“Teachers should be able to answer these questions, it’s their job,” DeLaCruz said to the protesters. “There are a lot of students that have LGBTQ+ parents. On Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, if they can’t talk about their families, what are they supposed to talk about?” 

Greta Magendantz, a first-year journalism and political science combined major, explained the importance of showing up to support LGTBQ+ youth and individuals across the country. 

“These legislative bills that have been passed in places all over the United States are super harmful to not only the LGBTQ+ youth whom they directly apply to, but to LGBTQ+ youth and people all across the United States,” Magendantz said. “We thought it was really important to show our support for other LGBTQ+ students at Northeastern, allow everyone an opportunity to share their own stories and to just come out and make some noise.”

Magendantz wrote about how Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill puts the health, safety, and overall well-being of LGBTQ+ youth at risk in an article for Her Campus. 

“Advocacy organizations across the country are concerned that the stigmatization of sexualities and genders outside of a heteronormative standard will leave children who identify with these labels to feel confusion, sadness, and shame,” Magendantz wrote.

Trevino, a fourth-year linguistics major, stressed the importance of community organizing events like the protest. They urged students to join their Signal group, where students could get more involved in grassroots organizing efforts. 

“We have a ‘signal’ where we organize events like this and will continue to organize throughout the rest of the semester, through the summer and into the fall,” Trevino said. “Gay people are here. We’re out. We’re proud.”