Yesterday, hundreds of Omaha high school students walked out to protest the anti-trans legislation moving through the Nebraska legislature. The youth are our hope for a better future, one where hate is stigmatized.

As many as several hundred students at Omaha’s Central High School braved dropping temperatures Friday and walked out of class to protest two pending bills in the Nebraska Legislature.

Armed with bright, colorful signs and a microphone, students used speeches and poetry to protest Legislative Bills 574 and 575, which focus on transgender youths. Both bills were introduced by State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha.

The Central students were joined by others, including parents, young children and community members, to hear a number of student activists talk about the potential impact of the bills.

Several students said the legislation would prevent transgender youths from accessing lifesaving medical care and limit how they participate in sports or the bathrooms they can use.

“I am a human being. I am not defined by my gender,” said Harley Lawton, a junior at Central High. “They are trying to take away our rights. They are trying to define us as what they first saw us as, not what we became, not what we decide to be.”