A very long week at the General Assembly saw action on a host of bills on The Family Foundation’s agenda, highlighted yesterday by a House subcommittee advancing legislation that protects the physical privacy of our school-age children.

Legislation (HB 781) introduced by Delegate Mark Cole (R-88, Fredericksburg) prevents public entities or public schools from allowing people to use the restroom/locker room of the opposite sex because they claim to be transgendered.  Of particular concern is Virginia school boards that have adopted such policies, despite the inherent privacy and safety risks.  The legislation would allow for accommodation for those who struggle with sexual identity while ensuring the constitutional right to privacy of all other students.  Sadly, believing that a child should use the restroom of their biological, physical sex or a private accommodation is being called hateful by opponents, who lined up in a tense subcommittee to fight the measure.  The subcommittee passed the bill 5-2, which will likely be heard in the full General Laws committee on Tuesday.

Please take a moment to thank the Delegates who voted in favor of this common sense measure by clicking here.

The panel also advanced HB 385, from Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), that prohibits local government bodies like school boards from adopting “non-discrimination” policies that include classifications not already protected by state law.  This should not be happening because Virginia is a “Dillon Rule” state, where localities don’t have authority to do things outside that which is granted by the legislature.  But Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion last year that circumvented previous AG opinions and claimed that local governments can adopt such policies, and the Obama administration is threatening withholding federal funds if school boards don’t add sexual orientation/gender identity to their non-discrimination policies.

The subcommittee also voted down several measures that would have elevated sexual orientation/gender identity to a protected class, including bills that would have applied to private businesses. 

Another priority of The Family Foundation that advanced this week is HB 1090 from Delegate Ben Cline (R-15, Amherst).  This bill would prevent abortion-centered businesses like Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayer funds, with the exception of Medicaid reimbursement.  A House subcommittee advanced that bill to the full committee, which should hear it on Tuesday. 

Also this week, the state Senate passed its version of the “Tebow bill,” which would allow home school kids in high school to try out for their local public school sports teams.  The legislation, introduced by Senator Tom Garrett (R-22, Louisa) is identical to legislation passed earlier this session by the House. 

In addition, the House of Delegates unanimously passed Delegate Steve Landes (R-25, Verona) bill that requires the state board of education to adopt policies that allow parents to opt their children out of assignments that they deem to be too sexually explicit.  This was brought by a parent in Fairfax county who has been fighting for this option since her child brought a book home with explicit sexual references.   In fact, when she tried to email the content of the book she found offensive to the board of education, their filters blocked the material! 

The Family Foundation’s highest religious freedom priority, the Government Non-Discrimination Act, will be voted on by Senate panel Monday after that same committee heard testimony last week but opted not to vote that day.  You can urge members of the committee to pass SB 41 by clicking here.  Several Republicans on the committee are wavering so the need to hear from you today!

The House version will be heard next week as well.

Next week will be another very busy week at the General Assembly.  As we approach the mid-point of session, there are still several key votes to be taken on key issues.  Please continue to contact your elected officials when we call on you, and keep the legislators and our team at The Family Foundation in your prayers!