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New Orleans march condemns anti-LGBTQ bills

By staff

Protesters march down Royal St. in the French Quarter.

New Orleans, LA – On Friday, March 31, hundreds marched from Washington Square Park to Jackson Square to celebrate Trans Day of Visibility. The marchers also gathered in response to nine anti-LGBTQ bills being considered by the Louisiana legislature. These bills reflect a growing crisis of targeted attacks against LGBTQ youth.

The Deadname bill, HB 81, would mandate that public school teachers misgender trans students and use their birth names. Students could appeal for their real names and pronouns to be used with a parental note, but staff would still be allowed to ignore that appeal based on “religious and moral” reasons. The demonstrators demanded that elected Democrats take a firm stand in opposition to these bills. In 2023 alone, 492 bills have been presented by far-right Evangelical Republicans trying to take away trans people’s rights.

“Our Trans Day of Visibility is not about optics. We are here to send a strong and united message that we will not take these attacks lying down, and we will never be eradicated. If they want to attack our existence, then they will expect our resistance!” said Quest Riggs of Real Name Campaign.

Youth and students were a strong presence at the march. Students from Benjamin Franklin High School staged a walkout in protest of the attacks earlier in the day. Jesús Zorilla, a Ben Franklin student, spoke on the devastating consequences that the bill would entail in the daily lives of high school students.

Additionally, two representatives from Students for a Democratic Society spoke at the rally. “They will come for us first, then they’ll come for the rest of the LGBTQ community,” spoke Viv Sidak from Loyola Young Democratic Socialists of America. “Every day we struggle, but every day is a triumph. We stand proud of the bravery and resilience of the students across the South,” said Vic Brunetti from Students United at the University of New Orleans.

“A coordinated national attack on students merits a coordinated national response!” said Serena Sojic-Borne of Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The speakers encouraged attendees to start SDS chapters at their own schools to join the national fight back against transphobia.

Protesters maintained high enthusiasm and energy. They ignored hecklers and chanted “We won’t go back! We will fight back!” and “Gay power!” When the sound system started to lag, a group of French Quarter musicians lent their sound system to the speakers.

The Real Name Campaign, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the ACLU, United Teachers of New Orleans, Students United at UNO and Loyola Young Democratic Socialists of America participated in the event.

#NewOrleansLA #TransDayOfVisibility #antiLGBTQLegislation