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Amid Jeers and Cheers, FCPS Board Adds Transgender Protections

by Karen Goff May 8, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,104 47 Comments

FCPS Board member Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield)The Fairfax County Public Schools Board voted on Thursday to add gender identity to its non-discrimination policy.

The 10-1 (with one abstention) vote came in a packed hearing room at Luther Jackson Middle School, where testimony was interrupted by applause, boos, and other noise from an impassioned capacity crowd.

The FCPS board voted last fall to include sexual orientation in its policy after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow gay marriages in Virginia and other states. In March, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion that grants local school boards the authority to include sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination policies.

The motion to add protections for transgender students, teachers and employees was introduced by At-Large board member Ryan McElveen. McElveen says it is important for the largest school system in Virginia to make a statement “that we unequivocally protect, value and embrace all of our students and employees for who they are.”

National statistics show about half of transgender teens have attempted suicide once before they turn 20. McElveen said that number was crucial in his reasons for introducing the transgender protection.

The new policy states that “no student, employee, or applicant for employment in the Fairfax County Public Schools shall, on the basis of age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, marital status, or disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity, as required by law.”

At Thursday’s meeting, Springfield board rep Elizabeth Schultz, the lone dissenter on the board, made a motion to give the proposal some more time before voting.

“[That] a class of individuals may hurt another in a bathroom is not the issue,” she said, pointing out the concern that the protections has been oversimplified by some in the community as an issue about coed bathrooms.

“How those rights are protected has not been addressed by this board. … We have no information about the potential cost [of implementation]. It is fiduciary malfeasance to undertake anything without understanding the germane costs of such action.”

Providence member Patty Reed, who abstained from the vote, said the quick process to move the motion through “has been troubling and embarrassing.”

Prior to the vote, the board heard testimony from 10 citizens on the subject — the maximum allowed at a FCPS meeting that is not officially a public hearing.

The speeches ranged from fears of sex crimes against children to support for the board providing the same rights for students and employees as federal and state laws.

Freddy Burgos, who has three daughters in FCPS, said the motion undermined First Amendment rights “by institutionalizing that boys and men can dress like girls in school.”

He also said the distraction of transgender students will lower performance, and that will harm minorities.

“It’s anti-Black,” he said. “It’s anti-Christian.”

Said another speaker, an FCPS parent: “This opens the door to 3,000 sex offenders that would not be stopped immediately when seeking access to female-restricted areas. … The policy is ill-designed and not respective of parents. There is no evidence it will work and it will increase sex crimes against children as young as 5 years old.”

Rev. Emma Chattin of the Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia, a LGBT-inclusive congregation, said she applauded the board for taking the step towards inclusion for all.

“All I have heard [in citizen testimony] is fear,” she said. “One thing I can assure you of is this nation never moved forward in fear. It is not a matter of affirming something you don’t believe in. These kids are already here.”

Gordon Baer, a 2013 West Potomac High graduate and a member of Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) of Northern Virginia, said he and others in FCPS schools “graduated in spite of our mental capacity going towards battling prejudices in the school itself.”

“The fact is, a hostile climate detracts,” he said. “This is not about bathrooms as it is about classrooms and the ability to learn under those conditions.”

Photo: FCPS Board member Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield)/FCPS Channel 21 

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Fear serves a purpose, Chattin. Sometimes you should listen to fear.

    • novatom

      You conveniently left out the rest of the statement.

  • Backflip

    Look up and become familiar with the word Gleichschaltung folks. The exact same techniques used by the Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party to force a whole unsuspecting population to accept their ideologies are being used today. Everything old is new again, why are we allowing this to happen again?

  • meh

    maybe the school board will do something constructive like declaring the children from central America are “war refugees” and demand the federal govt pay the county enough money to hire more teachers and build more schools to handle the influx. The county shouldn’t just take them on and increase our teacher student ratio …

    • Ming the Merciless

      Or we could demand that the vast sums of money we spend on the military and internal security actually be used to control the borders and defend the country. Federal dollars to prevent invasion instead of Federal dollars to facilitate invasion — what a concept, eh?

  • No thanks

    Wow. I am appalled by how many closed-minded, paranoid bigots there are in this area, which seems so civilized. Bravo, FCPS. Thank you.

    • June Smith

      After PE Class – are you alleging that we are closed-minded because we do not want him to shower in the girls showers with our daughters, grand daughters and nieces?

      • No thanks

        Well yes, but this is a much bigger issue than showers. Your insistence that it’s about naked bodies proves my point. Try meeting a transgender person, or better, try talking to a parent of a kid who identifies as a different gender. Maybe you could find answers to your concerns by educating yourself instead of just ranting on the Internet.

        • June Smith

          Naked bodies? That’s your take on this? What about a transgender’s battered and bruised body? Do you honestly think this kid is going to make it in a public school? Kids are beat up for far less every day.

          Get real … I’m probably more educated as to the dangers of putting a transgender kid into a public school system than you — you are all about political correctness – you don’t give a whit about this kid’s safety – which is why this policy WILL be overturned.

          • Girl Scoutish

            June, are you asserting that there aren’t transgender kids in the schools today? They are already there, this policy change wasn’t to allow them to attend school, it was just to give the transgender students, who are already there, the right not to be discriminated against due to their gender identity.

          • June Smith

            …. are you asserting that there aren’t transgender kids in the schools today?


          • JoeInReston

            “it was just to give the transgender students, who are already there, the right not to be discriminated against due to their gender identity.”

            Sometimes people can agree on high level proclamations and then disagree with the details. What would these new changes mean in practice? What discriminatory policies do these kids face now that they won’t have to face later? What would transgendered student be able to do now with the protections in place that they couldn’t do before?

            Gender and bathrooms/locker rooms are a big deal. We wouldn’t have separate rooms for men and women if they weren’t. Which locker rooms would transgendered students use?

            Gym class and sports are along the same lines.

          • Catherine Halsey

            They really aren’t, though. Most of the modern world has already proven this, the US is way behind the curve for no good reason whatsoever

          • JoeInReston

            Define most of the modern world. Asia? Middle East?

    • NoMoreUtopians

      Oh well, whatever nuttery you propose must be implemented. Otherwise everybody is a bigot. We see how that works.

  • June Smith

    What happens the first time this transgender boy (biological) takes a shower in the boys shower room after his Girls PE class – and is beat up by the other boys? Will the school board be complict in creating this risk and injuries?

    • WhoIsJohnGalt

      They would rather ignore this issue and pretend the events won’t transpire. Let alone ignore the fact that this will be a gigantic distraction in the classroom for all those attending.

    • Mike M

      The County could always just throw a big fat wad of our money at his family (and their attornie)s. All better!

    • Greg

      As usual, they will just write a check. It’s only money. Taxpayers’ money, but there’s an unlimited supply of that, right?

    • JoeInReston

      Which shower would a boy who identifies as a girl shower in?

      • June Smith

        In the shower with your daughter?

      • Arielle in NoVA

        At my kids’ schools, kids don’t even take showers after PE. Maybe it’s an issue with sports teams, but not during most school days.

        • JoeInReston

          What about after swimming? Most PE classes spend some time on swimming during the school year.

          • Arielle in NoVA

            My kids’ schools don’t have pools.

          • JoeInReston

            YMMV, but regardless, the full implications of the new transgender policy on bath, locker, shower rooms and sports should be addressed by FCPS to the public at large.

    • JoeInReston

      If a transgendered boy is awkward and ‘bully-able’, he would likely get bullied regardless of the new FCPS changes.

  • WhoIsJohnGalt

    I blame that guy that went from the cover of Wheaties to the Cover Of Rasin Bran. And remember to the people that are gender confused. It’s easier to dig a hole than build a pole

  • incredulous

    June makes some very valid points. What is the criteria to determine if someone is transgender or just wants to see what it’s like to watch girls shower? We are not dealing with adults here people…. Are we going to let the teens and pre-teens determine which bathroom and shower they use? Absolutely ridiculous!

  • Mary Cavanaugh

    Were you there Karen Goff? Because you have left out a whole lot of important information regarding this meeting and all the issues behind it. One sided, irresponsible, simplistic reporting here, which mirrors the way FCPS handled this entire issue. The majority tried to speak last night but were silenced in a “police state” fashion! Not one person I spoke to or heard speak last night, who was against this policy change, was pro-discrimination/harassment against the “Transgender Community”. They were against the policy change for the many other factual based reasons, cited by professionals, parents, doctors, state officials, and some courageous FCPS Board Members (the list goes on). Some of the issues of concern were: lack of transparency to the public regarding the planned vote and institution of this policy, lack of data/evidence to back up the stated reasons the policy should be changed, lack of information regarding the cost/resources/manpower it would take to be implemented – potentially placing a undue financial/personal burden on an already overtaxed school system that is currently struggling with budget/manpower issues, no official that was for for the change could speak to exactly how they would implement it, no information was provided on how school officials would handle situations in public restrooms, locker rooms, etc. to keep the ENTIRE population safe since (as a medical professionals who testified brought up) there is no truly defined medical definition for transgender people…anyone can make this claim and, regardless of their intent, can enter an opposite sex bathroom or locker rooms, WHO will be there to MONITOR the bathrooms/locker rooms if problems arise, concerns (again raised by this medical professional and many other parents) about the effect introducing confusing information to young students who are not yet in a stage to understand complex “gender” issues will have, concerns that parental choice is being overridden and disrespected by the school system …parents can opt their students out of sex-ed but are having “gender identity” information shoved down their children’s throats, the effect this change will have on the safety of the children that identify as transgender and choose to use opposite sex bathrooms, etc., etc. Every board member there admitted they had no data, plan in place, education, or training to base their vote on. Both Patricia Reed, Providence District Representative and Elizabeth Schultz, Springfield District Representative, moved to defer the vote until October so that the public could be properly informed and the school system could do their due diligence regarding all the implications passing this proposed change would have and to collect the evidence (clearly needed) to gauge the necessity of changing the policy, and the effect this change would have on the entire school population. These board members, as well as MANY of us who opposed the impromptu voting in of this policy change asked, “what’s the rush?” There was frequent mention of FCPS and its Board Members being under FEDERAL PRESSURE – with threats of pulling funding from county schools that do not comply. ELIZABETH SCHULTZ, we cannot thank you enough for being brave and realistic enough to tackle the tough/complex issues regarding this proposed change which, a large majority of tax paying citizens, parents, and even many teachers, were not advised of prior to this “vote”. Ms. Schultz, who was met with a plethora of tearful hugs from parents and citizens after the meeting, deserves a medal for courageously telling the public the TRUTH and standing up for the rights and fair treatment of ALL public school students, teachers, and parents! The process in which this proposed change was handled was divisive and CLEARLY irresponsible! Consensus was that the matter had not been adequately researched, reviewed, publicized, and so much more. There were more contradictions and fallacious statement made by certain board members last night than I can even count. HOW ABOUT STICKING TO THE BUSINESS OF ACADEMIC EDUCATION FCPS AND LEAVE THE REST TO PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE EXPERTS IN THEIR FIELDS? ELECTION TIME CANNOT COME SOON ENOUGH! PLEASE, PLEASE watch/ listen to Board Members ELIZABETH SCHULTZ, PATTY REED, and other parents/ professionals for logical, and common sense reasons why this proposal should not have passed yesterday! Go to live video of the May 7th FCPS Board Meeting here: https://youtu.be/L0w7SZI_swo

    • PotatoSalad

      Don’t worry – you won’t even get a response Typical of left wing reporting of Reston Now. Maybe another Ken Plum article asking for more money will smooth things ovetr

      • Karen Goff

        Here’s my response: The post accurately reflects the variety of opinions on both sides of the issue. Notice the “jeers” and “cheers” in the headline. Have a nice weekend.


          Mary & Potato Salad,

          Karen said she knew of 3 transgenders in one school in Reston. I assume, but can’t be sure, that she is talking about South Lakes since that is her home high school. Are there any statistics at all about the actual number of kids we are talking about. I can’t imagine there are more than a dozen in the entire county at any given time.

          • Catherine Halsey

            There are an estimated 700000 trans people nationwide, and that’s only the number of us that are out about it. Think again


            So how are these kids treated any differently than any other kid? What special accommodations should be made? I am serious. I don’t understand what transgender kids need that the schools are not providing already. And if there are 700, 000 nationwide, how many are in Fairfax County schools? When are you considered truly transgender? After sexual reassignment surgery? It just brings up so many questions. The school system is already overburdened with so many things. Maybe it would make more sense to home school these kids , or send them all to one school. Like TJ for gifted science students. South Lakes could be a magnet school for sexually/ gender confused, or lesbians, and gays. Their mascot could be a unicorn with wings or something like that. Why should everyone else in the nation have to bend over backwards to appease a very small minority?

          • Faunasong

            “Separate but equal.” Is that it? I believe the Supreme Court has already ruled on that concept.

          • Mary Cavanaugh

            What is the source you used to find theses statistics and what is the exact definition of “transgender” that is being used to crop up these numbers (since the physical definition seems to vary greatly per medical professionals)?

        • Mary Cavanaugh

          That is comical.

        • PotatoSalad

          That’s even better. The “I’m right and you’re wrong” response. Can’t wait for another Ken Plum article….that’ll be swell!


            She can’t take any criticism.

        • Mary Cavanaugh

          If you assert that you headline makes up for this painfully one sided “report”, you should really consider another field. Presenting such scewed facts to the public truly irresponsible. I was there for the entire meeting…the large majority in that room (like 90%) were against this proposed change for many very valid reasons.

    • Mary Cavanaugh
    • Catherine Halsey

      It’s funny, because 15 different countries worldwide have already adopted trans non-discrimination measures like this on a national level, with no sign whatsoever that these fears are actually founded on fact. This issue has already been settled across most of the modern world, with no ill effect. This is a non issue, the civil rights of a minority aren’t subject to the whims of the majority

      • Mary Cavanaugh

        Which countries are these and where did you find the statistical data to back up your statement that there is “no ill effect”? That like FCPS’s Board trying to tell the public that there have been no incidents of sexual abuse by teachers or students currently in the school system. All you have to do is read or watch the news every day to know that is not true.

  • NoMoreUtopians

    Where can we get some sensible public servants?! Where the heck did they all go? Who are these loons?

  • Cluster Tycoon

    Anyone, I have this great book here and its come out in a timely manner covering present themes and topics of the modern world. There is a free rendering of the book cover below but basically the book is for sale, Reston residents please show your pool pass for a 10% discount, all others its $3,750.00 – thanks for looking. Just respond to my post below to complete the transaction.

  • ResistanceMedia

    Please come out to protest if you’re in the area on July
    21st. This school board is out of
    control and needs some “parental supervision.” Check out my
    website: resistancemedia.org for more


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