Last week, on Oct. 4, 2021, students from Lee’s Summit High School held a walkout to show their support for Danny Lillis, a senior in the LGBTQ+ community, who experienced harassment for being openly gay.
Lillis said he thinks the main reason he was targeted was his choice to wear makeup to school. Food had been thrown at him, fingers were pointed, he was laughed at, and slurs were yelled. One of his friends stood up for him; one thing leading to another, the harassment turned physical. A fight occurred causing his friend’s nose to be broken, and all involved were given five days of out of school suspension.
He said he tried to bring up harassment situations to LSHS administration prior to this fight, but he felt like nothing was taken seriously. He said, “I personally felt ignored. I felt I wasn’t important, or a priority on the school’s list,” because no action had been taken.
A petition was created in support of Lillis by LSHS students, one member being Alex King. It was on www.change.org, with the headline “LGBTQ+ safety at Lee’s Summit High School”. King said the initial intention was to have a measurable amount of students’, parents’, and faculty’s support, as well having “reasonable and achievable changes” made.
The petition now has over 3,700 signatures. King said they feel the petition has made a tremendous impact overall. They said, “I would have never thought that something two high school [students] drafted to help their community would be getting recognition across the nation and from various news outlets.”
Many different platforms and social media accounts have also covered this issue regarding the walkout. Some include FOX 4, 41 Action News, U.S. News, and @gaytimes on Instagram, and more.
Lillis said he had to stand right outside the school property line for the walkout, because of being in OSS. Many signs were held up, with some saying, “Be kind”, “We are all human”, “Let us express ourselves without fear”, and LGBTQ+ flags.
Another peer of Lillis, LSHS student Amari Childs, also participated in the walkout for his friend. He said he doesn’t like to think of the fight too much, because it’s really hard to see his friends in such a state of distress. He said, “I wanted justice for my friends, and what happened to them could have been prevented.”
Childs said, “I think the biggest purpose for this walkout was to show that as a student body, we are aware of the events that take place at our school.” He said it was also to assure the student body that the school will work harder to prevent bullying, and help the acts of hatred happening in the future.
Lillis said he agrees the walkout has helped bring awareness to their cause, as well as the news stations and other platforms covering it. He said with everyone seeing it on the news, administration understands it is a big deal, and they need to take it 100% seriously.