The largest school district in Virginia voted late Thursday to protect transgender students from discrimination, despite outcry from conservative groups that attempted to frame the debate around whether the policy would let boys snoop in girls’ restrooms.
The Fairfax County School Board voted in favor of the admendment on a 10 to 1 vote, with one member abstaining.
The Fairfax County school board has voted to expand protections for students and staff members who identify as transgender.
Board members voted on whether or not to add "gender identity" to the county's non-discrimination policy during a school board meeting Thursday evening.
The policy change passed with a vote of 10 to one. The board added "sexual orientation" to the policy last fall.
The approved policy now reads:
"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. It is the express intent of the School Board that every policy, practice, and procedure shall conform to all applicable requirements of federal and state law."
Thursday's school board meeting was well attended, filling the auditorium with vocal parents on both sides of the policy change. At times the school board meeting descended into a scene like a playoff hockey game, complete with shouting, booing, hissing and ejections from the room. The meeting drew more civil demonstrations in front of the school building before it began. Parents carried signs and wore stickers, and some knelt in prayer.
According to our news partners at the Washington Post, Fairfax County School Board member Ryan McElveen proposed adding gender identity to the district's policy. He told the newspaper that the administration decided to add protections for transgender students after Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) wrote that school boards have the authority to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
FCPS officials say that no decisions have been made about accommodations that will be provided under the new policy. A consultant will be hired to assist in developing appropriate regulations.
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