Students hold ‘Walkout for LGBTQIA+ Acceptance’

Walkout chalking
Navi Balthazor writes statements on the ground on Bosco Plaza. Students held a walkout in support of LGBTQ+ acceptance on April 20, 2023. (Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: In the original online article, we used an outdated caption under the main photo. The caption has now been corrected, with Balthazor’s name added.

The sound of voices filled the air outside the K-State Student Union as dozens of students chanted, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.” Chalk outlines on the ground represent the bodies of transgender students, covered in written messages like “separate church and state” and “protect trans youth.” 

Students held a “Walkout for LGBTQIA+ Acceptance” on Bosco Plaza on Thursday. Ashe Vujevic, one of the organizers for the walkout, said they decided to hold this event in response to the decisions made at student government’s senate meeting on April 6. 

“The reason the walkout took place was because both multicultural students and queer students felt really neglected by the people they were choosing to elect to diversity-based chairs,” Vujevic said. “We mostly came there on the basis of Payton Lynn being assigned as the chair of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. … It’s not that she wasn’t representative of us, it’s that she has neglected her position in the past and was hurting, in particular, people of color and multicultural groups.” 

Maura Robison, freshman in English, said she also attended the student government meeting and felt disrespected by members of the student senate. 

“I went with SAGA [Sexuality and Gender Alliance], and the energy when we walked into the room was immediately hostile,” Robison said. “It did not feel like a safe space, or like the people there, who were supposed to be representing the students, were wanting to hear what we said. It felt like they didn’t care what we wanted at all.” 

Vujevic said the walkout was also in protest of an anti-transgender law recently passed by the Missouri legislature.

“Missouri just banned all gender-affirming care for adults and children,” Vujevic said. “A lot of people we know are from Kansas City, Missouri, so this is a really big thing. There’s a lot of tension and a lot of fear and struggle in the queer community right now.” 

Robison said she attended the walkout in opposition of the anti-trans bill.

“Some states are even forcibly detransitioning kids,” Robison said. “It has been proven through many surveys and stuff that that is actively harming trans youth. … I think the bills our country has been passing are horrible and child abuse, and I want to do whatever I can to protest that.” 

Zeonix Crew, freshman in history and social transformation studies, said everyone should speak up against the anti-trans bill, not just transgender and queer people.

“Do not let your siblings down in our community,” Crew said. “Just because you’re not trans or non-binary or intersex does not mean sh—. You are an ally to this community and they will come after you next. … The legislation that affects trans people, that gets rid of hormone therapy, will affect cis women who take estrogen or birth control. Does that mean nothing to you?”  

Vujevic said as a registered learning assistant, they have felt discriminated against by students in their hall.

“I’ve had my boards in the hallways messed with so that they’ve spelled slurs,” Vujevic said. “None of these things are ever approached; they’re just ignored.” 

Vujevic said K-State lacks inclusiveness when it comes to providing opportunities for queer students. 

“When I first was applying to the school, things like admissions officers had no idea about all of these [LGBTQ+] organizations,” Vujevic said. “I tried to get in contact about the LGBT center, and they didn’t have that information. I had to get connected to these resources myself. The institution was not at all providing in that aspect. … They kind of stuff all the gender, womens and multicultural studies into the middle corner of campus and don’t really discuss it, and there’s a lot of work going on there that is not appreciated at all.” 

Vujevic said they call on K-State to do more to protect and aid trans students. 

“We would really love for K-State to be more direct,” Vujevic said. “Especially right now when there’s a trans genocide happening, because your students are going to start dying. If you are a proper institute, you really should do something about that. Anything, because it’s just pure silence at this point.” 

Robison said the issues the queer community at K-State has aren’t issues of politics; they are issues of human rights. 

“Queer rights and trans rights are human rights,” Robison said. “It’s so much easier to love and accept everyone.” 

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