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Iowa students walk out of school in protest of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation

Organizers say that 27 schools across the state participated in the walkouts.

URBANDALE, Iowa — On March 1, students across the state walked out of class to speak out about bills impacting LGBTQ+ Iowans.

The walkout was organized by Iowa WTF and the Iowa Queer Student Alliance in protest of anti-LGBTQ+ bills coming out of the Iowa legislature, such as House File 348, which would ban discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools up to sixth grade

Students at Urbandale High School left class shortly before noon on Wednesday. 

"It's important for people to feel safe in schools," said Sia Smith, a senior at Urbandale who participated in the walkout. "And the fact that these bills trying to be passed are literally taking that right away from people that they don't have self autonomy and the ability to be who they are," 

Lee Saylor, also a senior at Urbandale, spoke at the walkout. They said that as a trans student, they're especially concerned about House File 180, which would require schools to notify families if a student identifies as trans.

"It really, really sucks because there's so many situations where this could cause alienation between family members, self harm or even death," Saylor said.

And the protest wasn't just limited to one school; walkouts also took place at schools in Ankeny, Ames, Johnston, Waukee, West Des Moines and more.

Organizers say a total of 27 schools participated.

Despite the record-setting volume of bills in the Iowa legislature dealing with LGBTQ issues, students say they won't be discouraged from speaking out.

"We have to stay here, and we have to fight even if we have to wait a decade, two decades, 100 years," Saylor said. "Change will come and we will be the cause of it."

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