A Woodgrove High School student who is transgender is speaking out against two online videos that oppose a recent Loudoun County Public Schools policy revision regarding gender identity. The student – who was surprised to see herself featured in the videos – says the online ads have essentially made her the figurehead of the group's opposition.
Hannah Hurt, who identifies as a transgender woman, was one of dozens of citizens to participate in the public comment section of the Feb. 26 Loudoun County School Board meeting, where she spoke in favor of incorporating gender identity into Loudoun County Public Schools Policy 1040, Equal Opportunity.
“There needs to be a system in place here to protect transgender children, because just because there isn’t reported issues and problems does not mean there is a framework to protect that from ever happening again,” Hurt said. “This formalization of the language in Loudoun County’s policy is needed, and I advocate for it fully.”
Hurt was preceded at the podium by a 12-year-old female student at Farmwell Station Middle School, who argued that including gender identity in the policy would violate the privacy of other adolescent girls such as herself in school bathrooms and locker rooms.
“Gender identity says that a girl’s personality is what is on a list, and that if you like this and do that, it means you are a girl, even if you are born a boy. This is wrong,” the girl said. “To get dressed in front of other girls, that is one thing, but it is a completely different thing to get dressed in front of the opposite sex. You have no right to do that to us.”
Chris Croll (Catoctin District) motioned to amend the policy to incorporate gender identity. That motion passed 5-4 with Eric Hornberger (Ashburn District), Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles District), Debbie Rose (Algonkian District) and Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge District) opposed.
Turgeon proposed a further amendment, which would add that “current restroom, locker room and overnight field trip practices will remain unchanged until modified by the school board.” Current bathroom policy allows transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the gender with which they identify as long as they've gone through the process to have the gender on their birth certificate changed.
Several board members opined that the proposed amendment was redundant. Turgeon's motion failed 4-5, with Croll, Beth Huck (At Large), Joy Maloney (Broad Run District), Tom Marshall (Leesburg District) and Vice Chairman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District) opposed. LCPS bathroom policy remained unchanged as a result of the vote.
Croll, Huck, Maloney, Marshall and Sheridan ultimately voted in favor of adopting Policy 1040 as revised and amended, carrying the motion 5-4.
On Feb. 28, a video titled “Loudoun County School Board Throws Girls Under the Bus” was uploaded to the YouTube account of frequent School Board meeting attendee Natassia Grover. It features full footage of the 12-year-old student’s address, followed by Hurt introducing herself and stating her support for incorporating gender identity into the policy, before cutting to a text card. The video also shows the vote on Turgeon’s failed amendment.
“Now the 6th grade girl who spoke before the School Board has to worry about teenage boys such as the one in this video having complete access to the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms,” on-screen text reads.
Hurt stumbled upon the video — which has amassed about 3,000 views — shortly after it was uploaded.
“I kind of talked about it with my group of friends. I posted on my personal social media about it, kind of giving my thoughts but not really doing anything that publicly about it,” Hurt said.
A second video, posted on Sept. 3 to the YouTube page of Merrifield-based nonprofit Public Advocate of the U.S., is narrated by the Farmwell Station student and further discusses the recent policy changes. Like Grover’s video, it refers to Hurt as a teenage boy, eschews footage of her public comments and lists the School Board members who voted against Turgeon’s proposed amendment, accusing them of voting to “remove girls’ inherent right to privacy.”
“The transgender agenda adopted by the School Board has allowed men to push women out of athletics, changing rooms and out of their bathrooms,” the narrator said. “It’s causing young children to be taught that biology is meaningless. Young girls are being taught that womanhood no longer exists and they have no right to privacy whatsoever.”
The Public Advocate video, now viewed more than 21,000 times, prompted Hurt to speak out, calling it “hateful and wrong and bigoted.”
“It’s more in-depth [than the first video], and it uses the same footage, but this time goes on to call all trans women — and I guess all trans people — pedophiles, although they don’t exactly take into account anyone but trans women. It calls them men incorrectly,” Hurt said. “This isn’t a passable opposition to the bill, this isn’t a reasonable point. This is a knee-jerk reactionary response.”
Hurt took further issue with having been unwillingly used as a “figurehead for the opposition,” especially since neither video featured her comments before the School Board in full.
“There are more opinions, there were other people speaking there. And then it goes on to not use any of my testimony, so not give a single counterpoint,” Hurt said.
Eugene Delgaudio, founder of Public Advocate of the U.S. and former member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, responded to the Times-Mirror’s request for comment by quickly noting the word “pedophile” is never used in the video.
“There’s no reference to pedophiles, just thoughts about the privacy of women,” Delgaudio, a conservative Republican, said. “Womanhood as defined by other people is not what we’re defending — we’re defending womanhood as defined by traditional women. Traditional women produced this video. There were no men involved in the making of this video.”
When asked about the exclusion of Hurt’s comments to the School Board, he said that since the creators of Public Advocate downloaded Grover’s video and built theirs around it, they did not have access to footage of Hurt’s comments as the original video did not feature them to begin with.
Complete footage of School Board meetings are accessible to all members of the public via the LCPS Board Meetings Vimeo account.
“This is not our video in the sense that we took it from someone else originally,” Delgaudio said. “It’s not meant to portray anything but this 12-year-old’s point of view. It’s not to insult anybody.”
Delgaudio, whose Public Advocate has been labeled an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, added that members of the transgender community “want to be the people being the victim, and that’s completely understandable.”
Hurt wished to encourage citizens to consider the effects of legislation like that passed by the School Board in February.
“Do a little research into why it’s a good bill. It helps the mental health of a lot of minority groups in the county. It doesn’t matter which side you fall on as long as you educate yourself,” Hurt said.