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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Utah Students Unite Rally to Stop Hate in its Tracks

Utah Students Unite rallied on the last day of the legislative session, calling legislators to “Flush Out the SHIIT” — to “Stop hate in its tracks” — in light of recent legislation and trans hate events.
Demonstrators+pose+for+a+photo+in+front+of+the+Utah+State+Capitol+during+the+Flush+out+the+SHIIT+march+on+Friday%2C+March+1%2C+2024.+%28Photo+by+Marco+Lozzi+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29+
Marco Lozzi
Demonstrators pose for a photo in front of the Utah State Capitol during the Flush out the SHIIT march on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

As the 2024 Utah legislative session came to a close, student group Utah Students Unite rallied at the Capitol on Friday for Zero Discrimination Day to remind legislators transgender students matter despite recent anti-trans bills and events of trans hate.  

Due to the recent passing of H.B. 257, the Utah transgender bathroom bill, and the death of Nex Benedict, a nonbinary student killed in an Oklahoma school bathroom, the members of Utah Students Unite wanted to create a safe space for trans students and allies to “heal and process,” said member Nicole Ostermiller. 

Items such as blue, pink and white knitted heart pins and golden-painted plungers were handed out to demonstrators. The centerpiece of the event included a porcelain toilet placed on the Capitol’s front steps in which attendees could write pro-trans messages and decorate with jewels. 

These items were inspired by the name of the event “Flush out the SHIIT,” with SHIIT standing for “Stop hate in its tracks.”

Ostermiller said the group also wanted to “send the message that we [Utah Students United] believe there’s a lot of things about this bill that can cause a lot of serious harm to people.” 

One member, Kate Lunnen, held a sign that said, “Let us piss,” and led the group of 11 demonstrators in chants both outside and inside the Capitol building saying, “Transphobia has got to go.” 

As the event moved into the Capitol and people sat near a public restroom, demonstrators spoke about why they attended the event. Lunnen spoke about the historical oppression surrounding using bathrooms, including “whites only” restrooms and “men’s only” restrooms on college campuses when women did not attend.

“So don’t be fooled that this is something new,” Lunnen said. “This is something that’s historically been happening.” 

Also in attendance was Evan Miller, who said Utah Students Unite succeeded in their mission of the event at the Capitol.

“It doesn’t matter how many people heard it, we heard it,” he said.

Demonstrators also sat at the entrance of the restroom handing out fact sheets about the transgender bathroom bill and encouraging those passing by to learn about the bill.

Utah Students Unite is a newer student organization at the University of Utah and hopes to help students become more involved with policy and legislation, advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Group member Juliet Reynolds said the group was inspired by a course taught at the U, Gender on the Hill, a course in which students spend six weeks at the Capitol during the legislative session and lobby for bills affecting gender. 

While Utah Students Unite has been active during the session, they do intend to work during the off-season of the session as well, preparing for the next year and developing relationships with legislators.

“We plan to be working throughout the year because that’s actually when you make more progress with legislators,” Reynolds said. “So we want to be ahead of the game instead of always catching up.”

Reynolds clarified that while the group showed up at the Capitol to share their support and love for the trans community, they also want legislators to know they do not support the passed bills because there is “violence” within them.

 

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@LibbeyHNews 

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About the Contributors
Libbey Hanson, News Writer
(she/her) Libbey is a second-year graduate student in the MPA program studying public policy and administration. She is most interested in environmental policy and social justice issues. You can usually find her in the mountains hiking and skiing or reading and writing at a local coffee shop.
Marco Lozzi, Photographer
Born in Texas and raised by Italian parents, Marco Lozzi grew up with two vastly different cultures. Now a sophomore at the U, he is majoring in communication with a journalism emphasis while also minoring in photography and Italian. He joined the Chrony to gain experience working as a photojournalist for a larger entity. When he's not taking or editing photos, he can be found hitting the slopes, napping, or making pasta.

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