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Students in Bettendorf walk out of class to protest anti-LGBTQ legislation in Iowa

The "We Say Gay" walkout was organized by IowaWTF and Iowa Queer Student Alliance.

BETTENDORF, Iowa — Frustrations were high Wednesday afternoon across the entire state as Iowa students stood up from their desks and walked out of their classrooms to protest numerous anti-LGBTQ legislation heading through the statehouse. 

Here in the Quad Cities, students walked out of Bettendorf High School to stand against bills like House File 348, which bans discussions of gender identity in schools. 

The "We Say Gay" walkout was organized by IowaWTF and Iowa Queer Student Alliance.

Bettendorf resident Mary Maher went to the protest to support students' right to peacefully demonstrate. 

"Iowa is saying that only certain people shouldn't have rights and little by little they're taking away rights," Maher said. "They're trying to stifle the growth of children. Today, children should be exposed to a lot of things so they can develop and make their own decisions and things."

Advocacy groups say House File 290 would attack the rights of transgender Iowans by preventing them from changing their gender marker on things like a driver's license. 

"Iowa is trying to put out a lot of anti-trans bills and we don't like that," said Bettendorf student Ray Menke. 


Fellow student Embrin Davis echoed the sentiment. 

"Why are people doing this? We're just trying to live our lives, we're the same as the neighbor next door," Davis said. 

In what seems like a never-ending fight, students are still hopeful that demonstrations like these can break through the noise. 

"I love seeing people actually like talking about issues that are happening both at our school in Iowa and in the world in general," Menke said. "So, it means a lot that this many people decided to join us."

"It means the world to me, honestly," Davis said. "I couldn't imagine doing this by myself."

According to One Iowa, there are at least 20 bills in the Iowa Legislature that focus on the LGBTQ community. 

"If you just count bills introduced in one year, the record for that before this year was 15. Now we're at 20. So, this is absolutely record-breaking," said Keenan Crow, director of policy & advocacy for One Iowa.

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