Watkins Mill students walk-out in solidarity after hate-based incident at neighboring school


Ryleigh Waters

Students showcase their signs and flags together at the walkout in solidarity of the hate incident at Damascus High School.

A hate-based incident was reported during a Genders and Sexualities Alliance meeting during lunch at Damascus High School on November 30, prompting a walkout in protest of not feeling safe at school, and Watkins Mill High School students organized their own walkout in solidarity. 

“[I helped plan the walkout because] it shows that Watkins Mill isn’t a school that is going to sit in the shadows and let people get away with this,” Muslim Student Association leader senior Hasham Khan said. “We have the privilege of a supportive administration, we have the privilege of a very helpful staff so we want to utilize that and stand in solidarity with Damascus.”

Students walked out in-between the transition from sixth to seventh period and stayed outside by the flag pole until the final bell rang. Young Democratic Socialists of America leader senior Mauro Gonzalez and Khan both gave speeches regarding the incident and Watkins Mill’s stance on it. 

“Students need to speak up for what they believe in,” senior Khady Mbodj said. “This is our lives…if we don’t speak on it and start the change nobody else will.” 

Many members of WMHS’ GSA, the Rainbow ‘Rines, brought flags to show support towards the Damascus GSA, and many LGBTQ+ students and allies made posters.

Junior Hanna Avery Leeson decided to walk out to support my community, and to bring more awareness to issues like this.” 

“We have vulnerable students who need protection and need to know that people can stand with them and that we will do what we can to protect them,” YDSA sponsor and English teacher Samuel Lee said. 

“[I just wanted to let] any kids in the closet know that it’s okay, that you’re supported, and that Watkins Mill is a safe spot,” Avery Leeson added.

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