MORE: Virginia ACLU and Del. LaRock spar over LGBTQ protection in Loudoun Public Schools
Since then, Virginia state Del. Dave LaRock (R-33rd), who spoke out publicly against adding LGBTQ protections at a Loudoun County School Board meeting, issued a press release calling the ACLU’s letter “desperate propaganda.”
The School Board debated adding LGBTQ employee protection at its Nov. 30 meeting. Some board members said they didn’t want to add protection beyond what state and federal law require. Other board members objected to the proposed policy amendment because they said they didn’t want to “put labels” on staff or students.
A large group of parents, students, teachers, Loudoun residents and people from surrounding counties came to the board’s Dec. 13 meeting to voice their concerns and feelings about the issue. Most of the people at the meeting showed support for adding the protections.
“It is the ACLU of Virginia’s position that the School Board not only has the authority to implement such protections under Virginia law, but that it should amend its non-discrimination policies to reflect its current obligation to protect students and personnel from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” reads the ACLU letter.
The letter, written by Gail Deady, Virginia ACLU’s secular women’s rights legal fellow, also urges the board to consider amending Loudoun County Public School’s student non-discrimination and anti-bullying policies to protect LGBTQ students.
Deady said her organization is offering guidance to the board because she said “misinformation” about the legality of the amendments was shared at its last meeting during public comment.
The letter lays out legal precedents under state and federal law for the board to add LGBTQ protections to its policies, including a 2015 opinion written by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, state code written by the Virginia General Assembly and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The ACLU letter lists statistics showing the success rate of LGBTQ students who go to schools with inclusive environments.
“Recent surveys have shown that 27 percent of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, and 78 percent of transgender people, had experienced at least one form of sexual orientation or gender identity-based discrimination or harassment at work during the previous five years,” reads the letter. “Feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at school can negatively affect a student’s ability to thrive and succeed academically, particularly if it results in that student avoiding school.”
LaRock told the board Dec. 13 it has “no legal authority” to add LGBTQ protection to its policies. He called the ACLU’s letter “poorly-researched.”
“The letter is designed to intimidate and mislead Loudoun County School Board members into a hasty, unnecessary, and illegal action that could harm vulnerable children in Loudoun County,” said LaRock. “Similar action in neighboring Fairfax County brought a lawsuit that is pending before the Virginia Supreme Court, so action by the LCPS Board could also have significant financial cost to Loudoun taxpayers.”
According to LaRock, the opinion from Herring and the policy letter from the Obama administration that the ACLU sites as precedent does not carry “the force of law.”
“The ACLU’s involvement demonstrates their typical eagerness to fundraise by opposing common-sense laws and pursuing a radical social agenda,” he said. “They are misleading Loudoun County’s elected officials and the public in a way that could bring significant harms to Loudoun County citizens.”
LaRock continued, “Our Loudoun County School Board should see through this charade, and I encourage Loudoun County citizens to contact them. We must urge them to reject this foolish attempt to give the ACLU and their radical social agenda a victory they desperately need after their recent resounding electoral defeat.”
In July, LaRock said a Board of Supervisors' proposed resolution to recognize LGBT Pride Month in Loudoun “promotes homosexuality and gender confusion to people of all ages” and could be “used to promote, affirm and recruit young school-aged children to those lifestyles.”
The board will likely vote on the proposed policy amendment at its next meeting Jan. 10, though the board’s policy review process has no deadline date.
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-Loudoun County School Board debates adding LGBTQ protection to employment policies
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