Walkout protests were staged at schools across Alberta today (Feb. 7) in response to proposed legislation surrounding transgender youth.
Among those participating in the walkout were around 50 students from the Foothills Composite High School in Okotoks.
Students gathered outside the school's front entrance at 10 a.m., many of them holding Pride flags and signs bearing messages like "trans rights are human rights," and "schools should be safe for everyone."
Several protesters shared their own experiences and struggles with gender identity and sexuality, as well as those of friends and family members.
A few speakers also voiced their concerns over how these policies would affect young LGBTQ students.
"It's hard to have to hide who you are at home, it's like you're putting on an act all the time. Here, I can be loud, I can cheer, and I can chant to support what I believe in. I'm so glad you're all here," said one student.
The organizer of the Foothills Composite walkout, grade 12 student MJ, says many youths who struggle with gender dysphoria or turmoil around their identity would feel like they have nowhere to turn under these policies.
"There are kids who won't have stuck around long enough to see that light at the end of the tunnel that Danielle Smith is promising when they turn 18. There are kids who won't make it to that point. There are kids who will get hurt because of this, there are kids who will end up homeless, there are kids who won't be able to access the support and quality of life they deserve to have."
The Foothills School Division released a statement earlier today acknowledging the protests.
MJ was happy at the turnout and expressed gratitude to school staff.
"We're lucky that we live in a place where the administrators aren't calling the cops on us and they were out here making sure we were safe."
They also echoed the slogan written on their protest sign.
"I should not have to organize acts of civil disobedience in my school in order for the government to start listening and caring about me and people like me."