If you listened to the public comment portion of Tuesday’s school board meeting you no doubt took note of the two sides arguing for or against a proposed policy that would codify transgendered students’ rights to use their chosen name and gender pronouns.
Under the full stare of the national media, these diametrically opposed groups asserted their respective views in a way that one might conclude that the very fabric of our community is being torn apart. It’s a schism that has been widened by the unrelenting attention of partisan pundits making cheap points.
That Loudoun County has become a veritable test kitchen for the ongoing national debate about issues of equity has been disheartening, to say the least.
Teachers and administrators alike no doubt resent Loudoun County Public Schools being forced into the role of an unwitting battleground by outside groups in search of a foil to their cause.
When Sen. Jennifer Boysko took to the podium to address the School Board, she injected into the discussion something that has been largely missing from the public discourse — context.
“The new policies that you all are undertaking have been mandated by the state board of education in part by legislation that I carried,” she said to members of the School Board.
“I carried the bill that sets out the new parameters of how are transgender students should be treated in schools, and we worked for a year with teachers from all over the state; with educators, with administrators, with families and parents and got input from people from all corners of Virginia.”
She continued, “And this is a mandated program that you all have been required to carry out and I want to thank you for your commitment to equality, and to making sure that every child feels loved and valued.”
Whether you agree with the changes stemming from that mandate or not, Sen. Boysko’s point is valid — the vitriol directed at the School Board and LCPS administrators is misplaced.
That’s not to say that those speaking out against, for example, the proposed policy affecting transgendered students are acting in bad faith. But this is not the right arena.
It’s important to remember the group at risk of becoming an inadvertent casualty of this debate — students.
The pushback against a policy intended to make transgender students feel safe and included is misplaced. It also risks having a deleterious effect on an already vulnerable population.
The anger and frustration that has come to define much of this debate may appear to be tearing Loudoun County apart, but it’s not.
No matter how much outside noise penetrates our discourse, we are still a community and we should all endeavor to remain civil, even at times of strife such as these.
Our children are watching and learning from our example.