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Oak Park High School students rally against proposed gender definition changes

Posted at 5:26 PM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 22:35:36-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dozens of students walked out of a North Kansas City high school Tuesday, expressing their concerns over President Donald Trump's decision to consider narrowing the definition of gender under Title IX, a federal law that bans gender discrimination in education.

"We just need to start saying, 'hey, this isn't OK,'" said Mel Bishop, an Oak Park High School student.

President Barack Obama broadened the definition of the law to include protections for transgender people. But under the Trump administration's proposed definition, the law would classify sex as either male or female.

According to the New York Times, the Trump administration said it needed a uniform definition of gender and that the push to limit that definition is the result of reading the law and a court decision. 

"Many see the LGBT-plus community is growing, but they don't see that the actual issue is that people are trying to take it away," said Alejandra Jones, an Oak Park student.

For 15 minutes on Tuesday, students shared their stories on why this issue matters.

"You are a human being and you are worthy of love and you deserved to be treated with respect by our government," Emily Hilderband, an Oak Park senior and the organizer of Tuesday's walkout, told the crowd.

That level of acceptance is understood at Oak Park High, where three years ago students voted for the school's first transgender homecoming queen.

"Students appreciate the opportunity to be together in a place where they can express themselves and their opinions and other students feel safe to do so," Oak Park assistant principal Casey Vokolek said.

Clay County sheriff's deputies kept an eye on the peaceful rally, which took a month to plan.  

"We talk to our students about how we are a family and we accept our family for who they are, and what they believe, and we're going to treat them respectfully," Vokolek said.