Oklahoma’s transphobic bathroom bill has been in effect since Governor Stitt signed it into law in late May. Advocacy organizations and officials have been fighting it every step of the way, but so far to no avail. Now, students are taking matters into their own hands.
Emery Jenkins, a trans sophomore girl at Norman North High School, says she’s been punished with in-school suspension three times for using the girls’ restroom. OU Daily reports that the most recent infraction was incurred for the high crime of fixing her make-up in the mirror.
Apparently, the third strike was the last straw for the teen.
Jenkins and fellow students quickly organized walk-outs at both Norman North and Norman High. Students posted signs in their schools, as well as blasting the messages on social media:
View this post on Instagram
Messaging included the reasons behind the protests, locations and times, and reminders for students to “be respectful and safe” and “drink water and eat something” beforehand.
Officials apparently told local news that they were confident the protests would not end up taking place.
Well guess what, Mimi?:
— Alyse Jones KOCO (@KOCOAlyse) October 21, 2022
Dozens of students gathered in front of the school to picket, chant, and wave Pride flags in defiance of the policy, all under the eye of officers keeping watch in a nearby parking lot.
Trans and nonbinary students including Jenkins shared their frustrations and stories with the crowd of protestors.
OU Daily reporter Jazz Wolfe captured the protest as it happened:
Students are leading chants advocating for fair treatment for trans students, including, “We will not be silenced. Trans is not defiance.” Some cars are honking in support, the students cheering in response.
— Jazz Wolfe (@jazzmwolfe) October 21, 2022
“It feels like a birthright. I am a woman, therefore, I use the women’s restroom,” Jenkins says. “It’s unfair of them to take that away from me. I shouldn’t have to leave for a select few who are uncomfortable.
“They should stand up for their trans students. It’s part of the reason I moved to Norman, so that I could express myself freely. But also, the fact that it’s all because of a bill that shouldn’t even exist in the first place is heartbreaking. It feels like we are living in a state that actively wants us to disappear.
No matter what the state wants, nor what school officials want, these students are making it heard that they’re not going anywhere.