National media covered “walkouts” by students supposedly objecting to transgender policies from Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration, but internal video of the “student” group shows that it is led by an adult former Democrat staffer and that the group knew that a large portion of students had no interest in the cause and simply wanted to skip school.
In video of an internal Zoom call obtained by The Daily Wire, the Pride Liberation Project bragged about having tricked the media.
The group’s leader claimed, “We had at least 12,000 students walk out. We were the reason Joe Biden was asked a question on this issue.” It boasted of “coverage from USA Today, the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Virginia Pilot, the Washington Post, AP News, and even some international outlets.”
But in a debrief after the walkouts, one student asked, “I want to know if anyone else had this problem. Yesterday at the school walkout we had about 200 kids participating. Most of the students were just there to skip class. Most of the fliers I handed out got handed right back to me because most of the people weren’t there for the cause of the walkout, they just wanted to skip class.”
Another activist replied, “I definitely had a lot of those people at my school… they are bolstering our numbers. We can count them as people who walked out for the Pride Liberation Project… They’re still helping and they don’t even realize it.”
A top organizer, Rivka Vizcardo-Lichter, replied, “When helicopters are recording your school, they’re not seeing which ones care and which ones don’t, they’re just seeing the numbers. So ya’ll slayed.”
Following the group’s extensive coordination with the media before the event, a local TV station dispatched a helicopter to capture a small group of students congregating.
HAPPENING NOW: A student walkout at Culpeper Co. HS is one of many expected Tuesday across Virginia in response to the state's new controversial policy regarding transgender students. https://t.co/zvQfpNxJyG pic.twitter.com/PnrGCKAvtE
— FOX 5 DC (@fox5dc) September 27, 2022
Aaryan Rawal, a college student and former legislative staffer for a Virginia Democrat who led the group on the call, told participants, “The goal of mass mobilization is not necessarily make people care about an issue… the primary goal is to give us credibility in the eyes of lawmakers,” he said. “For the 30 people who actually know what the policy is, and who actually know how they’re gonna advocate, those people suddenly have a lot of credibility when they talk to our Virginia lawmakers.”
At issue is a model policy from the state Department of Education that says that schools should not hide transgender students’ status from their parents, and should only change their name and pronouns with their parents’ written permission.
However, even some of the core group of activists on the call seemed to have little grasp on the policy they were disputing. One asked, “If this bill does end up getting passed… would that stop us from being able to have [a Gay Student Association]?” one asked. The Department of Education’s transgender guidelines are not a bill and would not stop that.
In an internal message board, Rawal shared a “talking points” document that told people what to say, including repeatedly invoking suicide.
If someone asked if walkouts jeopardized learning, he told them to say, “How can my friends possibly learn about photosynthesis in biology class when they’re worried about whether they’ll be able to come home to a safe place that night.”
Our lead organizer @rvlichter just appeared on @MSNBC.
Over 10,000 students in Virginia are making it clear to the DOE that students want to attend schools that aren't political pawns, but safe and inclusive places that empower all students to thrive. pic.twitter.com/L6vIJuxL8S
— Pride Liberation Project (@PrideLiberation) September 27, 2022
The talking points memo said to tell reporters that “I’ve had to talk friends out of suicide at 2 AM in the morning, and I’ve not met a single Queer student who isn’t depressed.”
The document continued, “Remember to focus on our narrative… Using a student’s true pronouns and name has consistently been shown to prevent suicide.”
“We have access to messaging research, or we have access to people who have access to messaging research, and that messaging research really guides what we say in the media,” Rawal said.
Noting that some students agreed with Republicans about transgender issues, Rawal boasted that they were going up against a professional-quality political operation. “It comes down to this: we know what we’re doing, they don’t know what they’re doing. Just remember, we were featured on international news and a lot of national news yesterday,” he said.