Amazon employees staged a sit-in at a company LGBTQ Pride Month celebration in protest of the company’s continued sale of transphobic books.
The protest, held at the company’s Seattle headquarters, comes amid increased employee activism at large technology companies, including unionization campaigns among Amazon’s warehouse workers in the United States.
Amazon did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The company has previously stated that it supports transgender people and LGBTQ employees.
Members of Amazon’s internal LGBTQ activist group were among the nearly 30 protestors who stormed a company-sponsored Pride Flag-raising ceremony on the Seattle campus on Wednesday.
Protesters accused the company of attempting to “rainbow-wash” its image while profiting from the sale of content that is harmful to transgender people in speeches.
Other LGBTQ organizations have made similar complaints about Amazon, including Seattle Pride, which barred Amazon from sponsoring its annual Pride Parade this year due to the company’s “financial donations to politicians who actively propose and support anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, oppose pro-LGBTQIA+ and other human rights legislation, and for allowing anti-LGBTQIA+ organizations to raise funds from their AmazonSmile program.”
Earlier this year, nearly 600 Amazon employees signed a petition asking the company to stop selling the books “Irreversible Damage” and “Johnny The Walrus,” as well as to give employees more say over which books the company decides to stop selling.
The protesters claim both books violate Amazon’s 2021 ban on selling books that portray transgender and other sexual identities as mental illnesses.
Some employees have resigned as a result of Amazon’s decision to continue selling those books and others in the face of employee opposition.
One longtime Amazon employee who took part in Wednesday’s protest said they couldn’t afford to resign.
The employee requested anonymity because Amazon has previously fired employees who protested the company’s policies.
Protesting is “a risk that many of us are willing to take because we can’t continue to work for this company while turning a morally blind eye to its policies,” the employee explained.
The protest, in the form of a die-in, was intended to draw attention to the fact that transgender youth who face discrimination and are denied gender-affirming healthcare attempt suicide at rates many times higher than the general population.
Republicans at the state level have in the past year advanced a slate of legislation to restrict transgender youths’ access to medical treatment, sports, and public facilities.
Source: Business Insider