Working-class solidarity and solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community are one and the same.
The Situation and The Response to It
Recent school walkouts in Virginia, the state of the “Old Dominion,” have garnered attention from such outlets as The Guardian and NBC News. In a time when many Virginia teachers are leaving the profession behind for good and a shortage of teachers nation-wide has hit the United States nation-wide, the recent walkouts by the students and allies of the LGBTQ+ community comes at a time when schools are under attack for attempting to have a modicum of decency for transgender individuals. The onus of the student walkout lies at the doorstep of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, just as the teacher shortage does for the reactionary right-wing of the rest of the country.
As the USA Today reported on Sept. 27 earlier this week regarding the policy changes for Virginia’s public schools,
“The guidelines, released Sept. 16 by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration, require students to use restrooms, pronouns and names based on their official school records. It limits sports teams to gender assigned at birth, and it tightens parental notification requirements.”
This, as the USA Today states, is happening along with “an uptick in anti-LGBTQ policies in schools, including what critics call Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law and bans in 18 states against transgender athletes participating in sports that match their gender identity.” Youngkin’s policy change is intended to alter decisions made late last year under the previous Governor, Ralph Northam. The new policies include numerous outrageous decisions, such as students having to be “referred to by the name and pronouns in their official records unless a parent approves the use of an alternative” and schools having the ability to “separate sports teams on the basis of sex assigned at birth and are not required to allow students of one sex to participate in sports teams reserved for members of another sex.” Students must also “file legal documents if they wish to be called by different pronouns” while the schools “may not encourage teachers to conceal information about a student’s gender from their parents,” as the USA Today article in question enumerates.
The new policies by the Youngkin administration were “released [by] the Virginia Department of Education Sept. 16” and have been followed by “thousands of students” participating in walkouts throughout northern Virginia, according to Jared Foretek of InsideNoVa. In addition, “more than 90 schools participated in walkouts across the state,” in large part led by the student-led LGBTQ advocacy group in Virginia known as the Pride Liberation Project. It should also be noted that the new spate of legislation that has been sweeping the nation is neither science-based nor popular. At a time when so-called “patriotic socialists” are trying to win over the working-class with the same social conservatism gimmick that Republicans use to court petit-bourgeois voters, the student walkouts – some of the largest in recent memory – are a display of where the proletariat’s interests truly lie. Currently, with many people starting work under-age and in an environment of deteriorating working conditions, it is a startling reminder that the communist movement, which has a long history of gay and trans comrades throughout it, continues to stand with other leftist and progressive forces in the fight for democracy and working-class power.
Trans Rights Are Workers’ Rights
The LGBTQ+ community is capable of being proletarian, are indeed proletarian, and are a vital part of the proletariat. This will never change. They are our co-workers, siblings, caretakers, parents, and so on and so forth, residing in our everyday lives whether we know it or not. This solidarity is essential; we cannot pick and choose, and it’s the reason why many communists within our organization are gay, transgender, or queer in some way. From Dom Shannon’s recent article on cpusa.org in regard to “anti-wokeness” and the Black community,
“Of course, the far right has a problem with the Black community recognizing and understanding their oppression. Acting on the belief that these movements were built on entitlement, “wokeness” became a dog whistle for any resistance by oppressed groups against their oppressors. Black Lives Matter along with the LGBTQ equality movement, MeToo, and even the Land Back movement all became demonized as “liberal IdPol wokeness.””
It should be noted that Youngkin branded himself a person that would be against wokeness and in particular CRT, or Critical Race Theory. The recent attack on trans rights – not just in Virginia but across the nation – are but one result of this obsessive view with attacking “political correctness” and “wokeness,” which dismisses legitimate concerns by the LGBTQ+ community. Conveniently, this campaign – in part based off of a hysteria and moral panic spurred by the evangelical movement – is also against the rights and concerns of other minorities, including the Indigenous people, racial minorities (Black, Arab, Latino, etc.), and non-Christian religions, such as Islam or Sikhism. Those that complained of “liberal wokeness” interfering in the lives of others – who would have never been harmed or the recipients of any of the issues involved – are silent now, and they often do not belong to the groups that are at the center of these issues.
But in truth, even if one is not in one of the groups at the forefront of any of this, solidarity is not just a buzzword; it is a call to get involved on the side of the people that are being attacked. The disruption comes not from the targeted groups, but rather from a malicious highly-funded ultra-right that is doing the targeting. It is not enough to simply raise your fist in salute and say “solidarity.” Getting active and organized to fight a force that has never once helped the working-class but will attack working-class folks for being gay or trans or Black or Muslim or Jewish, a force that looks the other way as students are killed in school by armed shooters, and a force that has overseen a dwindling of the quality of life of the population, is crucial. The right wing does not deserve to be tolerated when they don’t tolerate the very existence of us.
Let it be known that the Communist Party USA supports the student walkouts. We support the liberation of all groups under socialism. Through a mass movement, we hope to bring about that reality. As the Virginia CPUSA has previously stated, we condemn Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s anti-transgender policies and “call on all our members and friends to support ongoing demonstrations and actions planned for the coming weeks.” But it should be made clear that we cannot separate minorities and talk about them like they are separate from us. A socialist movement means class consciousness. It means recognizing our own class and that our struggle is truly our struggle, that LGBTQ+ comrades are involved and are an inseparable part of the movement.
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