School district targets queer youth

Queer youth need support and love, but this was denied by Pennsylvania’s Central Bucks School District when it passed Policy 321, banning Pride flags and other symbols of solidarity of and with LGBTQ+ youth.

Students and teachers protest Central Bucks “neutrality” policy, Jan. 20, 2023.

Officially, this policy is to maintain “neutrality” when it comes to “social issues.” In reality, it was intended to silence and stifle queer youth, denying them what they need to thrive. After a legal review, the district had to alter the policy from specifically targeting Pride symbols to targeting any “social issue.”

How was Policy 321 conceived? It was spawned after complaints against the school district were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, alleging that trans and queer youth were being harassed relentlessly by their classmates and silenced by upper-level administrators and the school board. But the board then banned Pride flags, refused to punish bullies and even went so far as to ban the use of preferred names and pronouns, unless students had parental consent.

The complaints had involved interviews with LGBTQ+ youth, their parents, their teachers and others, who saw firsthand the trauma and pain the students have experienced. Reports included a tragic story of a trans student who attempted suicide in 2019. Seven specific students were represented by the ACLU-Pennsylvania in their complaint to the U.S. Department of Education, the department responsible for investigating Title IX complaints.

Now, instead of gaining relief, students in the entire school district will have to experience bullying for being queer — for being who they are.

This is not the only attack in Bucks County on queer and trans youth. Former gubernatorial candidate and State Senator Doug Mastriano is attempting to legally define drag shows as “adults-only,” which would put them under the same rules as strip clubs and adult book and sex toy stores. He took this step after learning of a queer prom — a prom held by and for queer students who did not get to participate in their own proms — that had a drag performer as entertainment.

Mastriano claimed that drag shows held for minors — which are not, in any way, adult-oriented — should not be tolerated in “any functioning society.” The queer prom — held by the Planned Parenthood-sponsored Rainbow Room, a queer youth community center that has come under frequent attack by reactionary conservatives — gives youth the chance to experience the magic of a prom without the threat of bullying.

Coordinated attacks in multiple states

These two attacks on queer youth in Pennsylvania cannot be separated from the fact that there are increasing attacks on queer and trans people and their visible existences, nationally.

Texas, for example, has engaged in open warfare against transgender youth and the care they need. State legislators tried to make taking children to drag shows a Class A misdemeanor on par with vehicular robbery; they gathered data on trans residents who have changed the sex on their identification cards or drivers’ licenses. And they are attempting to limit or ban trans-affirming health care for youth — causing an exodus of trans youth and their families from the state of Texas.

In Utah, a moratorium on trans-affirming health care for youth — access to puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries — has been voted in and signed by Utah’s governor.

Trans youth in public schools are not the only ones being attacked. The State of Oklahoma’s “Millstone Act,” named after a verse from the Christian Bible, would ban people under the age of 26 from getting trans-affirming health care covered by Medicaid.

These attacks on LGBTQ2S+ people are worsening, and we must come together to fight these acts. We need to support the creation of transgender “buyers’ clubs,” shaped after the HIV/AIDS buyers’ clubs of the 1980s and ’90s, which could provide trans people anywhere access to their needed hormones.

Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist thought, as developed by Workers World Party’s founding Chairperson Sam Marcy, holds that LGBTQ2S+ people are worthy of dignity, respect, love and care. We must do everything we can to support queer youth and adults.

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