Louisiana Theatre Students Protest Against Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation at State Capitol

Proposed legislation in Louisiana closely mirrors what has been dubbed the 'Don't Say Gay' legislation in Florida.

By: Apr. 12, 2024
Louisiana Theatre Students Protest Against Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation at State Capitol
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On March 27, a group of 13 students from New Orleans’ Benjamin Franklin High School gave a 45-minute performance on the steps of the Louisiana state capitol to protest several anti-LGBTQ+ bills being considered by the state legislature.

The performance, led by 16-year-old Jude Armstrong, incorporated elements of tightrope walking as a metaphor for the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth under the proposed legislation. Armstrong voiced a poignant critique during his performance. "Who wants to grow up in a state that hates you so much?" he asked the onlookers, stressing the emotional toll of such legislation.

The bills in question include requirements for parental consent for students wishing to change their pronouns, restrictions on sex-based bathroom use, and prohibitions against school employees discussing their sexual orientation. These measures have sparked significant controversy, with opponents arguing that they mimic Florida's "don't say gay" law and violate the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Governor Jeff Landry has expressed support for the legislation, which proponents argue will protect parental rights and public health. However, the proposed laws have been met with strong opposition from LGBTQ+ rights groups and the broader community, citing harm to vulnerable youth.

"Our performance was about showing the real human impact these laws could have," said Armstrong. "All they want is for you to hate yourself. That is the cruelest form of violence I can imagine."

The students' protest also featured personal testimonials and scenes depicting their responses to the legislation, touching on mental health, queer history, and spirituality.

Despite the visibility of the protest, it remains unclear if any lawmakers were in attendance. The event was strategically timed to coincide with the dismissal of the legislature for the day.

Multiple studies have found no evidence that trans people using bathrooms consistent with their genders increases public safety risks.

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