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Photos: Hanover students and parents protest for LGBTQ+ protections

People staging protest
Hanover County Schools students and parents staged a protest outside Mechanicsville High School Friday. They were speaking out against bullying of LGBTQ+ students and called on administrators and the school board to support queer students. (Photo: Scott Elmquist/Style Weekly)

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A group of Hanover County students spent last Friday in silence as part of a national day of LGBTQ advocacy. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s Day of Silence is meant to protest bullying and discrimination against queer students.

Aspen, a nonbinary student in their first year at Mechanicsville High, said students need a safe place to learn.

“And if they can't use the bathroom at school, or they can't have their pronouns respected at school, that is going to really affect how they're learning,” they said.

The students finished the day in anything but silence .

The students had planned a walkout in March when the Hanover school board voted to allow the Alliance Defending Freedom to review the county’s equity policy. That group has been categorized an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Those plans were shelved when students received threats of violence and were informed they’d be suspended for leaving class to participate. As a procession of friends and peers headed home, people at Friday’s protest stressed the importance of being heard.

“I am feeling like a very empowered queer person,” Aspen said.


Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.