I am writing in regard to many of the recent changes that Loudoun County Public Schools have undergone. I have seen many negative responses to some of these actions, but I think some of them deserve support. As a recent graduate of Woodgrove, I saw many bad actions taken by LCPS, especially the way they handle mental health crises and sexual assault victims. LCPS is not perfect, but it has made some recent changes in racial and gender protections that should be championed and not a cause for dismay.
When I saw that LCPS would now allow students to go by the pronouns that they prefer I was ecstatic until I saw some of the community response. The biggest argument against this is the idea that this will encroach upon teacher’s freedom of religion.
Now, there are two big problems with this argument. First off is the idea that freedom of religion overrules any other right which is not how rights work. As my dad eloquently puts it, “Your rights end where someone else’s start.”
And it is also a basic misunderstanding of gender pronouns. Gender and sex are two different things. Gender is a societal construct that causes people who identify as a certain gender to be seen a certain way. For example, male gender norms say that men should be strong, non-emotional and other similar ideas.
Sex is what someone has as their anatomy, which is very different. I myself am a Christian and see gender for what it is — an idea created by society to condemn certain traits in people.
We should be celebrating LCPS for protecting our students from the constant feeling of disrespect that not using correct gender pronouns causes. The only point of concern is how LCPS handles parents in this situation. Some of the School Board want parents involved in every step of the way while others would leave that up to the student. Changing your gender pronouns is a huge step in a person’s life and parents could pose a problem to that student’s decision.
A student may want to change their pronouns but be afraid of telling a school official out of fear that they would be revealed to their parents and endure trauma at home. Students would end up enduring pain either way as they struggle with constantly hearing the wrong pronoun at the place that they are at most of the day. Students must be protected first and given a safe way to talk to their parents about their decision.
Another letter to the editor brought up something LCPS has done that I think is astounding, but they believed to be negative. For those of you who don’t have students in the school system, homeroom is now used as time to teach students about issues affecting them. Most of these are quite basic usually about bullying or the dangers of vaping and drugs. The one this letter mentions is systemic racism.
The argument they make is that any material teaching about racism should be about how we’ve moved forward from it since the end of slavery. Racism did not end with slavery or even after the civil rights movement — it is a pressing issue that still effects millions today. The idea that this is part of “woke” agenda is wrong — there was a reason millions peacefully marched last summer.
Systemic racism is real, it has factual data behind it as well as the emotional impact of generations. I am lucky to have the white privilege that I do and that I didn’t even realize that I had it until I learned about it. Students of all races need to learn about the struggles of others so they can be the solution to the problem. Ignorance breeds ignorance and LCPS should be commended that they are teaching students to be the change the world needs.