Late last night, just after midnight in a still-packed room, after four hours of public comments from over 100 speakers, the Stafford County School Board narrowly voted 4 - 3 to approve two nondiscrimination policies that elevate “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a special protected class, ignoring the cries of an overwhelming number of concerned parents in attendance. The policies give the district’s Superintendent virtually unlimited latitude to interpret and implement them as he sees fit - including the use of bathrooms, showers, and changing facilities - without any control or approval by the Board.
Adding insult to injury, the Board voted 4-3 against a motion to allow the Board’s legal Memo from their attorney to be made available to the public for the sake of transparency. The four members clearly have something they don’t want the public to know, since the Chairwoman revealed that she was voting against the policy because she agreed with the legal advice the Board was given!
Our Policy team, Todd Gathje and Josh Hetzler, attended the meeting, along with many dozens of parents and allies in the fight against these dangerously misguided policies, and spoke to both the policy and legal consequences they will bring.
You can watch the entire recorded meeting HERE and read the policies for yourself at the following links:
Proposed New Policy 2420 (Student Services: Nondiscrimination, Equal Education Opportunity).
Proposed Revisions to Policy 4107 (Human Resources Services: Nondiscrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity, Anti-Retaliation).
Over and over again proponents of the policies, including some Board members, claimed that they had NOTHING to do with bathrooms or locker rooms. And yet, they cited as their primary justification for the policy just one isolated incident last year involving a female student claiming to be “transgender” who was left in the hallway during an emergency drill instead of in the sex-segregated locker rooms with the other students. If these policies aren’t about allowing students and staff into opposite-sex bathrooms, showers, and changing areas, what are they about? After all, they already have policies prohibiting bullying and harassment of any student.
Of course, this has everything to do with bathrooms, access to locker rooms, and changing facilities! In fact Gavin Grimm, the female student from Gloucester County at the center of a major court case involving access to bathrooms, who also spoke last night, explained in an interview that transgender students don’t deserve the stigmatism of having to use single occupant bathrooms.
The School Superintendent, who has every intention of taking this as far as possible, will now be able to establish onerous guidelines for all students, teachers and administrators to follow within every context of the public schools, with very little oversight by the Board.
These policies have opened the door for every student to have unrestricted access to all sex-specific facilities - including locker rooms, showers, or bathrooms of the opposite biological sex - so long as the student merely claims to identify as that sex. This violates every student’s fundamental, constitutionally protected, right to bodily privacy and will force them into situations that make them feel uncomfortable or fearful. In addition to concerns about privacy, these policies will compel students, teachers and administrators to use phrases or pronouns that conflict with their beliefs about the biological realities of males and females, or be reprimanded by the school. Many of the parents alluded of former West Point High School teacher, Peter Vlaming, who was recently fired for this very reason after that school board passed a similar policy.
All of this will happen notwithstanding the clear and vocal opposition of parents, who see their fundamental right to control their children’s education and upbringing being eroded and their children now being put in danger by people who might abuse the policies for wrong purposes.
What happened in Stafford last night could be coming to your county, as many school boards have been watching closely to decide whether to consider similar policies. While we are saddened and outraged by what transpired last night, we will not stop fighting these horrible policies that work to destroy the very fabric of our society.
To all the parents, students, pastors, and concerned citizens in Stafford who submitted comments or spoke out last night, thank you for engaging in this critical battle! As long as this policy stands, this fight is not over.