On April 1, 2023, Omaha Central High School students walked out of school in protest of Nebraska’s Legislative Bills (LB) 574 and 575.
LB 574, the “Let Them Grow Act,” would prohibit medical interventions for transgender youth in Nebraska. This includes surgery like elective double mastectomies, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones.
LB 575, the “Sports and Spaces Act,” would ensure that children participate on sports teams that align with their biological sex and that children use the bathroom that aligns with their biological sex. In other words, girls’ sports teams would have only biological girls, boys sports teams would have only biological boys, and boys and girls can only use restrooms that align with their biological sex.
Advocacy groups including the Nebraska ACLU and Nebraska Planned Parenthood supported the student protest.
Jen Seau, Legal & Policy Counsel to the Nebraska ACLU, said, “The bottom line is this: we encourage all school officials to support their students in exercising their right to civically engage.”
The Nebraska ACLU sent an open letter to Omaha school principals and superintendents encouraging them to allow students to protest. The letter stated,
Last week, the Nebraska Legislature voted to advance LB 574, which would take away the freedom of families of transgender youth to seek critical health care. This bill is an attack on trans youth and directly affects life-saving health care for students in your schools. The ongoing debate in the Nebraska Legislature has engaged many young people who seek to use their voice and exercise their right to civically engage.
Nebraska Planned Parenthood also supported the protests. According to OutNebraska, an organization that “celebrates the full spectrum of LGBTQIA2S+ people”, “The event will begin with speeches by student activists and Nebraska Executive Director of Planned Parenthood North Central States Andi Curry Grubb followed by protestors lining Dodge street with signs and chants.”
According to the Omaha World Herald, “In a letter to Central staff and families, Principal Dionne Kirksey said students who missed classes will be marked as truant. While the school respects the right of students to advocate for the causes that are important to them, she said, a student protest or walkout is not a school-sponsored event and students will face “natural consequences” for missing assignments or tests.”
Omaha Central High School is part of Omaha Public Schools (OPS) in Omaha, Nebraska.