A Virginia county school board declined to adopt policies provided and required by the state regarding the treatment of transgender students Thursday.
The August County Board of Education decided against adopting policies required by the state involving how transgender-identifying students are treated.
The School Board called a special meeting to decide whether it would agree to amend its nondiscrimination policies to reflect a set of policies the Virginia Department of Education provided outlining how schools should refer to and accommodate transgender students. State law requires districts to administer policies that reflect its model.
The controversial state mandates have led to confrontations between parents and various school board officials; in one case, a Loudoun County teacher was suspended after he spoke out against a proposed transgender policy at a meeting of the local school board.
The state’s model policies, whose stated aims are to “address common issues regarding transgender students” and “ensure that all students, including transgender students, have safe, supportive, and inclusive school environments,” provide that schools should eliminate dress code provisions requiring gender-specific attire and not use transgender students’ biological pronouns.
However, the Augusta County school board’s rejection of the state’s transgender framework could set up a showdown with the Democrat-controlled government in Richmond.
According to WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, the board voted unanimously not to adopt the state’s policies during a meeting Thursday that drew a crowd of about 500 to Wilson Memorial High School in Fishersville. Most of those in attendance were opposed to the policy prescriptions of the Virginia Department of Education.
“I believe parents want to have your backs if you stand up and vote no to the liberal agenda,” attendee Beth Jenkins told the board, according to WVIR. “They do not trust the government. They want to send their children to public school, but they will not be told how to raise their children.”
No children should ever be bullied or harassed, said board member John Ocheltree, but he too objected to the state’s policies.
“Like many parents and grandparents of Augusta County, the Virginia Department of Education policy does not sit well with me,” he said.
A smaller group of parents advocated for the model policies during the meeting.
The 26-page state document of “model policies” purports to “address common issues regarding transgender students in accordance with evidence-based best practices and include information, guidance, procedures, and standards.”
It states schools should eliminate gender-specific attire in dress code provisions, require staff to use a student’s preferred pronouns, and strongly encourages “LGBTQ+ cultural competency training” which would, among other things, instruct staff in “the use of unbiased language to promote equality and justice for LGBTQ+ students.”
Virginia law requires that schools adopt some form of the model policy, stating that school boards must enact transgender policies “that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive than” the Virginia Department of Education’s document.
However, the Augusta County school board said its current anti-discrimination policies regarding sex and gender are in compliance with state law.
Parents opposed to adopting the model policies — who dressed in red for solidarity, according to WVIR — applauded the school board after the vote.
The most visible dust-up has been in Loudoun County, a Washington, D.C., suburb which has become ground zero for school activist battles involving critical race theory and transgender policy.
There, the Loudoun school board’s proposed take on the Virginia policies edict states that “staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record.”
“School staff shall, at the request of a student or parent/legal guardian, when using a name or pronoun to address the student, use the name and pronoun that correspond to their gender identity,” it declares
Physical education teacher Tanner Cross was suspended after he spoke against the proposed policy at a meeting.
Loudoun County School Board just put a school teacher on administrative leave for stating he would not teach LGBTQ because it violates his Christian principles. pic.twitter.com/QCwzIYdNNw
— Michael S. Miller (@imichaelsmiller) May 27, 2021
“It’s not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready. We condemn school policies [that] would damage children, defile the holy image of God,” Cross said.
“I love all of my students but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. I’m a teacher but I serve God first and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion. It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”
In early July, a judge ordered Cross be reinstated, although the school is appealing the decision.
Resistance from parents and teachers is one thing, but resistance from a school board is quite another. Make no mistake: This is a shot across the bow of the Democrat-controlled government in Richmond.