Virginia School Board Unanimously Rejects Critical Race Theory and State-Mandated Transgender Policy

A student eats lunch in her classroom at Freedom Preparatory Academy on September 10, 2020
GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images

The school board of Russell County, Virginia, July 15 unanimously rejected both the teaching of the radical Critical Race Theory (CRT) indoctrination scheme and Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) mandated transgender policy.

According to WCYB News:

[A] passionate crowd was in Russell County Thursday evening, where a public hearing was held over a new policy in Virginia that addresses transgender students. … The vast majority of people in attendance were against the Virginia Department of Education’s model policy for treatment of transgender students.

Virginia’s legislature approved a measure in 2020 that required every public school district in the Commonwealth to establish policies that meet the baseline standards set out in their guidance for the treatment of transgender students. Executed through the VDOE, the new guidance is merely the minimum requirement for each school district and gives significant slack to counties to introduce far more radical gender policies.

The baseline VDOE guidance, however, does require that school personnel only refer to a student with their purported preferred pronoun, even against the wishes of parents, and “without requiring any particular substantiating evidence, including diagnosis, treatment, or legal documents,” as well as allowing children of the opposite sex to use restrooms and locker rooms that align with their chosen gender:

For many transgender students, their daily emotional and psychosocial wellness are dependent on receiving support and recognition for their gender identity. A transgender student may adopt a name that is different from their legal name on their birth certificate and use pronouns reflective of their gender identity … School divisions should accept a student’s assertion of their gender identity without requiring any particular substantiating evidence, including diagnosis, treatment, or legal documents.

In the situation when parents or guardians of a minor student (under 18 years of age) do not agree with the student’s request to adopt a new name and pronouns, school divisions will need to determine whether to respect the student’s request, abide by the parent’s wishes to continue using the student’s legal name and sex assigned at birth, or develop an alternative that respects both the student and the parents. [Emphasis added].

The policy also calls for the school to “[assist] the family in developing solutions in their child’s best interest” and requires that “school staff should be prepared to support the safety and welfare of transgender students when their families are not affirming.” (Emphasis added).

Russell County’s school board members, however, were not afraid to stand up to the Commonwealth’s radical mandates.

School board member Bob Gibson told WCYB News in a statement that “I was elected by the people of this community and I intend to stand up to protect every kid and do the will of the people of Russell County—and not that of an overreaching state government.” Gibson, who is also a father of three children in the school district, added that “The most important thing we can do is protect every kid and to provide them with a safe and secure place to learn.”

In addition, WCYB News reported that the Russell County School Board members “said it was their job to protect all students, and they believe the school district is already in compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws.”

The VDOE, however, appears ready to enforce the mandate. In a statement to the Washington Examiner, a VDOE spokesperson chided the move, saying:

The 2020 legislation (House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161) requires local school boards to ‘adopt policies that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive than the model policies developed by the Virginia Department of Education’ by the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

It is the responsibility of the local school board to follow the law.

It is the responsibility of the local school board to meet the requirements of the 2020 legislation.

The Founding Freedoms Law Center, which is challenging the policy in court, disagrees with the VDOE, contending that the policy itself violates the law. Josh Hetzler, legal counsel for the Founding Freedoms Law Center — the legal arm of the Family Foundation of Virginia (FFV) — told PJ Media that “the policies themselves violated various state and federal laws, including infringing upon numerous fundamental rights of students, parents, and teachers.” Hetzler further argued that “Because of how legally problematic these model policies are, not to mention the likelihood of tangible harms to student’s bodily, privacy, safety, and dignity in private spaces, [the] school board simply cannot adopt policies consistent with the existing model policy.”

The FFV lauded the “precedent-setting” vote. In a press release provided to Breitbart News, FFV’s Vice President for Grassroots and Communications Strategies Candi Cushman stated:

With this action, the Russell County School Board set an empowering example for school board members across the state who feel pressured against their will to adopt the state government agency’s radical transgender-issue policy. … This is one of the first school boards to send this strong, unequivocal message that they will not compromise when it comes to protecting all kids and respecting parental rights.

Many have dubbed Virginia “ground zero” in the fight against radical education policies that have permeated across the country, emboldening parents to take action.


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