“We Say Gay” Walkout, Two Months Following

The April 1st walkout was an success for the Gender Sexuality Awareness club, but what was the lasting impact, and what are the plans for future walkouts?

by Adrie Starkenburg, Reporter

A month and a half following the April 1st walkout, members of the Central Kitsap High School (CKHS) Gender Sexuality Awareness (GSA) club, are still hard at work.  

The club originally planned the walkout, dubbed the “We Say Gay” walkout, in protest of Florida’s HB 1557 bill. The bill has made it illegal for Floridian teachers to hold discussions about gender identity or sexual orientation, and is know widespread as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The walkout was also intended to spread awareness about over 240 other anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have passed state legislature. 

“I was mostly hoping to bring awareness to people around… a lot of people were thinking ‘oh, that’s not really something that we have to deal with, that’s not our problem here in Washington, or here on the West Coast,’ but that’s not really the case,” says junior Cailey Wallace, GSA president.  

Also spearheaded by sophomore Aiden Pacl, who has a large Tik Tok following that helped in spreading the walkout plans and encouraging protesters, the walkout spread to 49 different states. 

“We were really hoping to get a few other schools outside of the state… Honestly my hope was ten to 15 states. We got to 49 states, which is still really awesome to get to say,” says Wallace. 

Pacl also mentions that they had hopes for change, in terms of local leadership. 

“I was hoping that the walkout would pressure school boards and politicians to first, you know, stop passing bills that are super anti-trans and anti-LQBTQ+ in general. And I was also hoping that it would pressure school boards to actually have a backbone, and not just do everything for the small minority of people that are just loud,” she says. 

Both Wallace and Pacl mentioned future plans for other walkouts, Pacl mentioning that its something that they would like to do yearly. 

“We are doing it again,” Wallace says, “Our planning is already in the works, I believe our date is set for March 30th… we’re preparing new materials, we are outsourcing to more news stations… we’re hoping to reach out to all 50 states.” 

Wendy Kassler, GSA advisor, also speaks positively towards the idea of holding another walkout, saying “We were pretty energized by it honestly… so yes, we have plans to do something like that  again.” 

Kassler also speaks positively towards the effects that walkouts, including ones hosted by other clubs, are having on school culture, and even how she teaches.

“What I’m hoping… [is that] especially marginalized groups are feeling like it’s an ok place, that it’s a safe place to be able to raise awareness to issues that matter. I think it’s sort of changing the school culture, to be honest with you, because, you know, the Black Student Union (BSU) also did one of these, and that’s made changes. I mean, that’s definitely, that’s changed the way I teach,” she says. 

Despite the success of the April 1st walkout, and the optimistic plans for another, Wallace knows that there is still much room for change in the near future.

“In my little part of Kitsap County I’m doing what I can, but unless we keep up this momentum, and constantly push, constantly give 110% all the time, we’re not going to see all the results that we want. As we know the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was passed into law, but I’m not going to give up.” 

“I want school officials, government officials, anybody in a position of power… to see that this is something that I’m not going to give up on. Not even just for me, for every sing gay, trans, lesbian, bisexual, or young person in this country, that [they know], your rights are something that you deserve,” she says.