Advocate, Student Suing FCPS Over Transgender Protection Policy

fcps logoA Conservative advocate and a Fairfax County Public Schools student are suing the school system in the wake of FCPS adding protections for transgender students in its nondiscrimination policy earlier this year.

The Washington Post reports that Andrea Lafferty, a leader of the Traditional Values Coalition, and an unnamed high school student, filed the suit in Fairfax County Circuit Court last week.

The suit argues that the FCPS school board overstepped its bounds when it changed the policy to bar discrimination of students and staff based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. The suit asks for an injunction to stop the board from implementing the policy, the Post reports.

In May, the school board voted 10-1 (with one abstention) to add gender discrimination to its policy. The vote came after impassioned testimony by community members on both sides of the issue.

The motion to add protections for transgender students, teachers and employees was introduced by At-Large board member Ryan McElveen. McElveen said at the time 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.”

Earlier in 2015, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion that granted local school boards the authority to include sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination policies.

But the new lawsuit argues that the Virginia General Assembly has never given school boards the authority to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the fall of 2104, the school board also voted to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Much of the discussion in the Reston Now comments section leading up to and in response to the May school board vote had to do with privacy issues if students identifying with another gender are using school bathrooms and locker rooms.

The Post reports that the student — called “Jack Doe” in the suit — described being “terrified of the thought of having to share intimate spaces with students who have the physical features of a girl, seeing such conduct as an invasion of privacy.” The suit said the student is also distressed because the school board has not defined “gender identity” or “gender expression,” and worries that he could be disciplined for “unknowingly violating the ambiguous code of conduct.”

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