A Fairfax County School Board forum on transgender protections scheduled for Thursday, July 14 has been canceled. Instead, the school board will proceed directly to a work session on the issue next week.
FCPS School Board Chair Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill) said the forum had been scheduled to determine whether the school board wanted to review the regulation regarding gender non-conforming and transgender students at an upcoming work session.
Hynes said in a statement there is support to proceed to a work session and, as such, the forum is no longer required.
Discussion of the regulation regarding gender non-conforming and transgender students is now scheduled for the July 21 from 4 to 6 p.m. in room 1600 at the FCPS Gatehouse Administration Center, 8115 Gatehouse Rd., Falls Church.
The new regulation is slated to take effect at the start of the 2016-17 school year.
Last year, the Fairfax County School Board voted to extend the FCPS non-discrimination policy to include gender identity. The School Board has received the regulation drafted by FCPS staff, and it details how FCPS plans to implement the revised non-discrimination policy and also brings FCPS into compliance with recent federal court rulings and U.S. Department of Education guidance.
Typically, the School Board sets policy and then FCPS administration develops regulations for implementing the policy. However, when the Board amended Policy 1450 to include gender identity, the Board added a follow-on motion stating that the board would review the accompanying procedures. That’s why the regulation will be discussed at the July 21 work session.
The school board engaged in a lengthy debate on the subject last month, ultimately voting 9 to 3 to amend the student handbook to ban discrimination against transgender students.
While the board heard positive testimony from transgender students’ families, they also heard several citizens peak in opposition. Some school board members argued that the decision was rushed and does not spell out exactly what the protections mean.
A group called Concerned Parents of FCPS Students is circulating a petition calling for the policy to “provide for the strict sex segregation requirements in areas where our diverse religious and ethnic student population mandates modesty. We demand that any policy put forward must provide for strict sex segregation in athletics.”
“While we agree that no child should be subject to harassment, bullying or denied educational opportunities for any reason, including gender identity, we strongly disagree with the implications that the new policy change will create in the transgender non-discrimination regulation being created,” the petition reads.