“Trans rights are human rights”: Walkout to protest new guidelines

On September 27, 2:40 p.m., students across Virginia walked out of class to protest Governor Youngkin’s new school policies, and Marshall walked with them.

The new guidelines would prevent transgender students from using bathrooms, joining sports teams, and using pronouns of the gender they identify as.  

“It’s a real setback for our trans students,” said senior Alex Curcio. “These policies will only alienate trans students from their parents and from their peers here at school.”

Curcio helped shout chants at the walkout and said he carried the transgender flag during both the walkout and the school day.

“I think flags are incredibly important for sending a message, and we want to send a message that there are trans students here at Marshall, trans students in FCPS, and trans students in Virginia,” Curcio said.

Curcio stood alongside the walkout’s main organizer, senior Rayan Afif.

“As a trans student in FCPS, I’ve been fighting for trans rights all four years of high school,” Afif said. “This walkout was really meaningful because I think this is the first time we’re gonna do something to gain support and expand the movement, especially at Marshall.”

Afif said they delivered a speech in hopes to put a face to this movement and show people they are fighting for a community that may not be represented as much.

Junior Natasha Dormont agreed with Afif that this policy will hurt transgender students.

“If so many trans kids are going to suffer from this, whether that’s through being outed to their families and not being supported, being referred to by their dead names and being misgendered, that’s going to cause so much mental harm,” Dormont said.

Dormont said trans students would be losing school as a potential safe place if they cannot find that space in their home.

“If this policy passes, then they won’t be able to use bathrooms that align with their gender, play sports, and just be treated as if you know they’re not equal to [cisgender] students, which is absolutely not true,” she said.

Along with the walkout, Afif’s attempts at raising awareness for trans rights include sending emails, speaking at school board meetings, and posting on social media. Additionally, Afif expresses their fight through art.

“I like to call myself an art-ivist,” Afif said. “What that is, is artists who make art based on activism and root their activism work in art.”

To the people who decided the policy, Afif has two words: I’m sorry.

“I feel sorry for them,” they said. “They don’t understand the true length of what’s happening and what they just did, and I don’t think they understand the actual effect it’ll have and how many people could die. I’m sorry [they] don’t understand.”