In 2016, Highland High School in Ohio decided to ban their practice of having male and female students wear white or green graduation robes based on their sex. The school argued that they did not want to alienate anyone or hurt any feelings related to “gender issues,” namely the feelings of one student in particular that year who “identified” as transgender. Lindsay Gatsios, a graduating senior in that class, took a stand to speak out against implementing the new politically correct measure, stating that she preferred to wear a white robe as all graduating females in classes before hers had. She reasoned that the feelings of one student questioning their sexuality should not supersede the other students’ preference or mandate that all others wear a certain robe solely as an effort to not offend the transgender student. At the time of the decision, Gatsios wrote that, “[her high school believes] wearing the same color will make the women equal to the men. To accommodate one student and to achieve “equality” between men and women, we are now all required to wear the same color.” Gatsios boldly advocated for traditional values while speaking out against politically correct and overbearing regulations. (Read the full story here
.) Needless to say, she has principles and the courage to stand for them. Lindsay’s bold advocacy for conservative values served her well as chairwoman of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at Highland High School where she worked to carry out successful YAF campus initiatives and host prominent conservative speakers before graduating. She continues to do the same at the University of Akron, where she just wrapped up her freshman year. The New Guard:
How did you first realize you were a conservative? Lindsay Gatsios:
I was raised in a very conservative family. My dad was especially influential. He discussed politics with me from a very young age; He would read “The Armchair Economist” before he tucked me into bed at night. The first time Barak Obama ran for president, I was 9, and my sister and I wrote a list of the top 20 reasons he shouldn’t be president. It was all in me from a very young age. My dad told me it was just in my blood from day one. TNG:
What inspired you to get involved with YAF? LG:
The second time Obama was elected, I was a freshman in high school. That second time around it was even more frustrating to me. I got to go to a Mitt Romney rally, and that was the first time I was ever really excited about public policy. My neighbor and friend, John DiGiacobbe, was the president of the YAF chapter at our high school. He invited me to go to meetings, but I was too shy to show up somewhere where I didn’t know everyone. That year, the chapter hosted Kate Obenshain and she was incredibly inspirational. The next school year, I started going to meetings and my enthusiasm and love of conservatism grew from there (along with my confidence). TNG:
What is an obstacle you’ve faced because you advance conservative ideas on campus? LG:
All the ludicrous titles liberals try to assign conservatives: sexist, racist, bigot…“cisgender” as if it’s the worst thing in the world. The hypocrisy of the Left is the most frustrating. They can be so cruel, and yet they tell me I am the embodiment all of these negative things? Sometimes that frustration is enough to make me want to quit; then I remember I couldn’t possibly quit – this is just too fun.
On a college campus, there are so many people trying to silence you and make you look like a villain. These attacks really just encourage me more. When people tell me I can’t do something, all I want is to prove them wrong. They make me fight harder. Their hypocrisy reminds me to make sure I always practice what I preach and to act on facts, not feelings. Their cruelty reminds me to respect their right to their opinions (no matter how wrong I think that opinion might be) and to be a kind and decent human being. I don’t get a lot of basic kindness and respect from the Left.
What has been the most rewarding part of being active with YAF and a leader on your campus? The least? LG:
In high school, I sparked a huge amount of controversy. During those times, I felt hated by so many people. The encouragement and support from YAF really got me through it. When people in the community started recognizing me or just recognizing my name and then introducing themselves and thanking me, I knew I was doing something right. But, this was also the only time in my life I was fearful of my peers. I avoided walking alone because I didn’t want to be cornered. People would say things to me online, and there was so much hate in their words that I was scared of being attacked verbally or physically. When you feel that way, it’s hard to keep your head up and smile – to never back down. I knew if I just gave in and took everything back, apologized, it would all go away. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I can handle being afraid. My fear is so small in comparison to the things I am fighting for, so I will gladly be afraid or nervous if that’s what it takes. I’m always nervous when I’m doing something controversial (it’s out of my natural comfort zone!), but I’ll gladly smile through the fear because I know the sacrifice is worth it. So, the hardest thing is being afraid. But the best thing is that in the end, I did the right thing. I fought not just to defend myself, but for something much bigger. TNG:
If you had to go back and change any part of your journey, would you? Which part? LG:
I don’t think I would change anything but to start sooner! The person I have become is just so much stronger than who I used to be. I was so afraid of everything. I think about how my life could have been different in high school if I had discovered that I could be brave, that shaking hands with someone really isn’t that scary, and standing up for myself and for others is so worth it. A fire was lit in me one day and I became a stronger person. If it had happened sooner I could have been so much happier. TNG:
What’s your favorite thing you’ve done with YAF? LG:
My favorite thing so far is definitely attending the National Conservative Student Conference (NCSC). It was one of the best weeks of my whole life. I am so excited to go again this summer! The whole experience was just incredible. TNG:
What advice would you give your high school self? LG:
I would say, “You can do it.” I would tell myself to stop hiding. There’s nothing wrong with being noticed. Once I joined YAF I was able to draw strength from my cause. TNG:
What’s the best resource YAF has provided to you as a student? LG:
The best resource YAF has provided is really just their constant support. I know that I can send an email if I have a question about anything at all and they will get back to me because I am important to them. They say feel free to call, and they really mean it! TNG:
Who is your favorite YAF speaker and why? LG:
My favorite YAF speaker is Lt. Col. Allen West. I admire him so much. He has lived such an amazing life already. His dedication and sacrifice for his country is so admirable. When he speaks, you can tell how intelligent he is. When he is defending his beliefs, he has cold hard facts to back it up; he doesn’t just speak on his feelings. The way he can answer audience questions so quickly and so well is just amazing to me.
We’re excited to see what Lindsay does in the future to promote conservatism and advance freedom’s principles. History tells us she’ll stand up for what she knows is right, no matter what.