Students Walk Out After Speaking At School Board Meeting



“…because i am a boy

who looks like a girl

who looks like a boy

and that kind of thing 

will get you in trouble around here


i’m scared to use the men’s bathroom

because i’m afraid what they will do

with me

and because i’m afraid that i’ll stick out

‘cause i don’t know what to do


i’m scared to use the ladies’ bathroom

because i am tired of the judgement 

and tired of the comments

and because when i look at myself in the mirror

i don’t know who i see.”


This poem was written and spoken by Oliver Lee, a senior at Arrowhead, to the Arrowhead Union High School school board at the 11/10 meeting. 


On October 20, the Arrowhead School Board had a meeting where they introduced topics relating to gender-neutral bathrooms and students’ pronouns. 


Within this meeting, Amy Hemmer, the Merton representative on the Arrowhead school board, said, “boys having a girl who thinks she’s a boy walking in on them while they’re urinating” when talking about bathroom usage. Along with this, on the topic of pronoun usage Hemmer said, “these are young kids they have enough problems they don’t need to be confused about what is my gender, you know what do I want to be called: am I a he, a them, a tree, a rock?” 


Hemmer then went on to say that she doesn’t “believe our teachers should be promoting gender fluidity or whatever it is.”


Chris Norcross, a senior at Arrowhead, said Hemmer’s speech propelled students to attend the next school board meeting, hoping that they could explain their stories to the school board members. 


The students also hoped to point out policies and laws that outlawed this type of speech and discrimination.


The Arrowhead District Policy Handbook states, “Arrowhead School District prohibits all forms of unlawful discrimination against students, employees, and other persons.” The term “unlawful discrimination” encompasses any unlawful policy, practice, conduct, or other unlawful denial of rights, benefits, methods, practices, privileges, or classification such as facilities usage on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. Discrimination complaints shall be processed in accordance with established procedures.


Parents, students, alumni, and teachers from Arrowhead showed up to the 11/10 School Board meeting and prepared speeches for the public comments section of the meeting. These speeches in total lasted over an hour and included stories about students’ real experiences.


Choir teacher Grace Bielski said she spoke “to be a voice for students who have been made to feel like they are less than and don’t matter.” Her speech started off the public comment section of the meeting. 


Bielski said she was “incredibly proud of all the students who spoke and shared” and wanted to tell these students “please know that you matter. Continue to raise your voice.  Tell your story.  Your courage, action, and love is what brings light to the darkness.” 


Before the end of the meeting, some students ended up walking out of the meeting. 


Hemmer asked to make a response to the speakers, which was granted by the President, and then said, “The issue I brought up to the table was from other parents who were complaining that their sons in a bathroom were being exposed from another girl coming in.” 


Lee said this comment made many of the speakers feel disheartened and invalidated, and caused many of them to simply leave the meeting.


Many students that went to the 11/10 board meeting expressed interest in attending future board meetings (such as the 12/1 meeting) to continue the dialogue. These students say they want a change in our school and are willing to work towards it.


You can view the 11/10 meeting here: 111021 School Board Meeting – YouTube