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Virginia AG says schools must comply with trans policies

Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Prince William County Public Schools have announced they will not implement the new guidelines

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South Lakes High School, Reston, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Fairfax County Schools/Facebook)

RICHMOND – Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares on Thursday said school boards must adhere to the state’s new guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

Miyares in a letter to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin said the guidelines “comply with the Equal Protection Clause, Title IX and the VHRA” (the Virginia Human Rights Act) and “local school boards are required to adopt policies that are consistent with them.”

The Virginia Department of Education last month released the new guidelines.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares with Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Ann Kincaid
(Photo Credit: Office of VA AG/Facebook)

One section states “schools shall defer to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children.”

“Parents are in the best position to work with their children and, where appropriate, their children’s health care providers to determine (a) what names, nicknames and/or pronouns, if any, shall be used for their child by teachers and school staff while their child is at school, (b) whether their child engages in any counseling or social transition at school that encourages a gender that differs from their child’s sex, or (c) whether their child expresses a gender that differs with their child’s sex while at school,” it reads.

Another section notes “schools shall keep parents informed about their children’s well-being.”

“To ensure parents are able to make the best decisions with respect to their child, school personnel shall keep parents fully informed about all matters that may be reasonably expected to be important to a parent, including, and without limitation, matters related to their child’s health, and social and psychological development,” it reads. “Parents’ rights are affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court that characterized a parent’s right to raise his or her child as ‘perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this court.’ Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000). This requirement is, of course, subject to laws that prohibit disclosure of information to parents in certain circumstances including, for example, Code of Virginia § 22.1-272.1(B) (prohibiting parental contact where student is at imminent risk of suicide related to parental abuse or neglect.)”

The guidelines further state “schools shall serve the needs of all students” and the Virginia Department of Education “is committed to working with school divisions to ensure a positive, safe and nurturing learning environment for all students.” 

“Each student’s individual needs should be taken into consideration by his or her school, and divisions should develop policies that encourage schools to account for these individual needs, with due sensitivity to the needs of other students and the practical requirements of the teaching and learning environment,” reads the guidelines. “Schools should attempt to accommodate students with distinctive needs, including transgender students. A team of appropriate school staff and other caregivers should collaborate with the student’s parents or with an eligible student to identify and implement such reasonable accommodations or modifications (if any), considering the resources and staff available in the school and school divisions, as well as the rights and needs of other students and of school staff.” 

The guidelines further state “single-user bathrooms and facilities should be made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage, indicating accessibility for all students.” 

“To ensure that all students have access to a learning environment in which they feel comfortable and safe, where state or federal law requires schools to permit transgender students to share otherwise sex-segregated facilities (such as bathrooms or locker rooms) with students of the opposite sex, parents should be given the right to opt their child out of using such facilities, and the child should be given access to alternative facilities that promote the child’s privacy and safety,” reads the guidelines. “Eligible students should be given the same right to opt out.”

Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools have announced they will not implement the new guidelines. NBC Washington on Thursday reported Miyares’ opinion is “nonbinding.”

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Parents sue Virginia Beach school board over trans policy

Two parents are seeking to force schools to adopt Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new policies for treatment of trans students

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Virginia Beach City Public Schools EV school bus fleet. (Photo Credit: Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Two parents in Virginia Beach have filed a lawsuit that seeks to force the city’s school district to implement the state’s new guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

NBC Washington on Friday reported the conservative-leaning Cooper and Kirk, a D.C.-based law firm, filed the lawsuit in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

The Virginia Department of Education in July announced the new guidelines for which Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked. Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools are among the school districts that have refused to implement them. 

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Fairfax County Virginia schools defy governor over trans students

A group of activists organized by FCPS Pride held a rally and march near Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church

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Students, teachers, administrators and activists march along Gallows Road in Falls Church, Va., on Aug. 15, 2023, in support of Fairfax County Public Schools' decision to disregard the new 'model policies' for transgender and nonbinary students issued by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's administration. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

FALLS CHURCH, VA. – A group of activists organized by FCPS Pride held a rally and march near Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church, Virginia on Aug. 15 to support transgender, nonbinary and gender expansive youth in Fairfax County Public Schools.

Teachers, students, administrators and activists were joined by elected officials in praising the statement issued earlier in the day by FCPS Superintendent Michelle Reid, which assures constituents that the current Fairfax County policies for trans and nonbinary students will remain unchanged.

The Virginia Department of Education issued a model policy that rolls back protections for trans and gender non-conforming students. Advocates warn that the new state policies directly harm trans, nonbinary and gender expansive students.

In response to the state policy announcement, Reid publicly responded in a letter on Aug. 15. “We have concluded our detailed legal review and determined that our current FCPS policies are consistent with federal and state anti-discrimination laws as required by the new model policies.”

“Let me be clear that FCPS remains committed to fostering a safe, supportive, welcoming and inclusive school environment for all students and staff, including our transgender and gender expansive students and staff,” the statement continues.

Reid announced in the statement that FCPS would retain current county policies: Including that students continue to be addressed by their chosen names and pronouns; provided with access to facilities, activities and trips consistent with their gender identity; and continue to have their privacy respected regarding gender expansive or trans status, legal name, or sex assigned at birth. These Fairfax County policies are in direct opposition to the policies announced by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration.

A group of Fairfax student and teacher activists were joined by Fairfax County School Board members Karl Frisch and Laura Jane Cohen, state Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church), members of faith communities and representatives from the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers union in a rally and march at Luther Jackson Middle School in support of the Fairfax policy announcement.

“This is about making sure that every child can show up in our schools without the weight of the world on their shoulders so they can focus on learning,” Karl Frisch, who is the school board’s vice chair, told the assembled activists. “Protecting them from the weight of the bigotry out there so that they can focus on getting the education that we are offering them in our school buildings.”

The Youngkin administration policies are being debated in districts statewide and have already been adopted by Spotsylvania County Public Schools.

Speaking with the Washington Blade, Frisch elaborated.

“It’s important to stand with our transgender and gender expansive students and their families and our staff,” he said. “Today the superintendent made it clear that FCPS, Fairfax County Public Schools, will continue to abide by federal and state law that requires us, rightly so, to support and protect and affirm our transgender and gender expansive students and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

“They are teaching the rest of the commonwealth a lesson on how to handle a bully.” said Simon, who praised Reid and FCPS. “Because that’s what Glenn Youngkin and his administration are: They are an administration full of bullies who want to take out their frustration and anger and distract us from their own failings by taking on our trans and nonbinary students. The only way to stand up to that is to say, ‘no, we’re not going to do it. Go away. Leave us alone.’ We’re doing it the right way here in Fairfax County.”

FCFT Treasurer Emily Vanderhoff said she has “heard from these families that the parents and their children have been scared about what school is going to look like for their child when they walk in the door on Monday. I know that teachers and other school staff need to know that they want to affirm these students and that they need to know that their district has their back.”

The gathered community activists marched on the sidewalk along Gallows Road carrying signs and chanting support for trans students’ rights following the rally.

(Blade photo by Michael Key)
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Rural Virginia library may soon require parental escorts for kids

The battle over books on LGBTQ+ themes, and even race relations has become a national issue with conservatives railing against libraries

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Blue Ridge Library Branch, Botetourt County, Virginia, library system. (Photo Credit: Botetourt County Library/Facebook)

ROANOKE, VA. – A long simmering feud between a group of parents who have been pushing for the Botetourt County, Virginia library system to remove books that contain LGBTQ+ materials or themes which they allege are sexually explicit, and the library has taken a new direction.

The county’s Board of Supervisors has previously issued resolutions standing by the library and its current policies but during a board meeting at the end of last month, Mac Scothorn, who took over as the Chair of the Board this past January, proffered a unique solution. Scothorn’s solution however, would make Botetourt Libraries’ visiting policy for young people the most restrictive in the state.

The Chair’s solution to address those resident’s concerns? Prohibit anyone under 18 from visiting the library without adult supervision, the Cardinal News reported.

According to the non-profit news media outlet, Scothorn’s recommendation is another element of a broader intellectual freedom debate that has cropped up several times recently in various parts of Virginia.

At the meeting, Scothorn said he would share his recommendation with the Botetourt County Library Board of Trustees for consideration. There was no formal vote on the item, which was not included on the evening’s agenda, and no board members voiced objection to the proposal.

Library policy currently requires children under 13 to be supervised by adults. Scothorn’s proposal would require adults to supervise anyone under 18. Teens with written permission from their parents would be able to visit independently at age 16 or 17.

During the July 31 Board of Supervisors meeting, a resolution apart form the Board Chair’s proffered solution was unanimously adopted.

The resolution stated that the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors actively supports and defends citizens’ First Amendment rights including:

-The right to read and access information freely and to form their own opinions.

-Defends parental rights to choose content that is suitable for their own families and children, but not to determine what is appropriate for other families and their children.

-Affirms the Botetourt County Library’s existing policies and practices to protect minors by requiring minors under the age of 13 to be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult, and by providing for collection transparency and parental/guardian access and control in minors’ use of library materials, services, resources, and events.

-Supports the Botetourt County Library’s existing policies and procedures guiding the selection and deselection of materials reflecting the needs and interests of the community, without discrimination against or preference for specific individuals, groups, or viewpoints.

-Affirms the Botetourt County Library’s vital role in protecting citizens’ constitutional and parental rights and enabling all citizens to understand and navigate a complex world.

“The Library Board hasn’t endorsed or even discussed any changes to our policies regarding teens in the library,” Marlene Preston, chair of the library board, said in an email to the Cardinal News. “For now, we’re pleased that the Board of Supervisors has formally supported the library and its staff.”

The battle over books on LGBTQ+ themes, and even race relations has become a national issue with conservatives railing against libraries and schools.

A mounting campaign by anti-LGBTQ+ groups such as the Florida-based ‘Moms for Liberty’ to remove or outright ban books written for youth about racial or LGBTQ+ issues has resulted in far-right extremist rhetoric including death threats against librarians nationwide.

A report released by the American Library Association (ALA), covering its annual assessment of books being challenged or banned in the United States showed a dramatic increase.

According to the ALA, nearly 1,600 books in more than 700 libraries and library systems across the nation involving race, gender and the LGBTQ community, were targeted by conservative groups in many cases led by anti-LGBTQ+ groups like the Florida-based ‘Moms for Liberty.’

ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals.

In an article published by The New York Times, the paper reported that as highly visible and politicized book bans have exploded across the country, librarians — accustomed to being seen as dedicated public servants in their communities — have found themselves on the front lines of an acrimonious culture war, with their careers and their personal reputations at risk.

They have been labeled pedophiles on social media, called out by local politicians and reported to law enforcement officials. Some librarians have quit after being harassed online. Others have been fired for refusing to remove books from circulation.

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Va. Dept. of Education issues new guidelines on trans students

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin last Sept. announced plans to revise the guidelines that former Gov. Ralph Northam, signed into law in 2020

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Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor/Facebook)

RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Education on Tuesday released its updated guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students in the state.

One section of the new guidelines states “schools shall defer to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children.”

“Parents are in the best position to work with their children and, where appropriate, their children’s health care providers to determine (a) what names, nicknames and/or pronouns, if any, shall be used for their child by teachers and school staff while their child is at school, (b) whether their child engages in any counseling or social transition at school that encourages a gender that differs from their child’s sex, or (c) whether their child expresses a gender that differs with their child’s sex while at school,” they read.

Another section states “schools shall keep parents informed about their children’s well-being.”

“To ensure parents are able to make the best decisions with respect to their child, school personnel shall keep parents fully informed about all matters that may be reasonably expected to be important to a parent, including, and without limitation, matters related to their child’s health, and social and psychological development,” reads the guidelines. “Parents’ rights are affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court that characterized a parent’s right to raise his or her child as ‘perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this court.’ Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000). This requirement is, of course, subject to laws that prohibit disclosure of information to parents in certain circumstances including, for example, Code of Virginia § 22.1-272.1(B) (prohibiting parental contact where student is at imminent risk of suicide related to parental abuse or neglect.)”

The guidelines further state “schools shall serve the needs of all students” and the Virginia Department of Education “is committed to working with school divisions to ensure a positive, safe and nurturing learning environment for all students.” 

“Each student’s individual needs should be taken into consideration by his or her school, and divisions should develop policies that encourage schools to account for these individual needs, with due sensitivity to the needs of other students and the practical requirements of the teaching and learning environment,” reads the guidelines. “Schools should attempt to accommodate students with distinctive needs, including transgender students. A team of appropriate school staff and other caregivers should collaborate with the student’s parents or with an eligible student to identify and implement such reasonable accommodations or modifications (if any), considering the resources and staff available in the school and school divisions, as well as the rights and needs of other students and of school staff.” 

The guidelines further state “single-user bathrooms and facilities should be made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage, indicating accessibility for all students.” 

“To ensure that all students have access to a learning environment in which they feel comfortable and safe, where state or federal law requires schools to permit transgender students to share otherwise sex-segregated facilities (such as bathrooms or locker rooms) with students of the opposite sex, parents should be given the right to opt their child out of using such facilities, and the child should be given access to alternative facilities that promote the child’s privacy and safety,” reads the guidelines. “Eligible students should be given the same right to opt out.”

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin last September announced plans to revise the guidelines that his predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam, signed into law in 2020. The Virginia Joint Commission on Administrative Rules late last year formally objected to Youngkin’s proposed revisions.

“All children in Virginia deserve to have a parent engaged in their life and to be treated with dignity and respect. The VDOE updated model policies reaffirm my administration’s continued commitment to ensure that every parent is involved in conversations regarding their child’s education, upbringing and care,” said Youngkin in a statement. “Public comment, input and concerns were carefully evaluated and assessed to formulate the updated model policies. The Department of Education has delivered policies that empower parents, prohibit discrimination, create a safe and vibrant learning environment by addressing bullying incidents immediately, and protect the privacy and dignity of all students through bathroom policies, athletic procedures and student identification measures.”

Equality Virginia, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, on Tuesday sharply criticized the new guidelines.

“Today, Gov. Youngkin and the VDOE made a dangerous, politically motivated decision to ignore the thousands of Virginians who submitted public comments in opposition to his proposed model policies — policies which single out transgender and nonbinary youth in our schools,” said Narissa Rahaman, the group’s executive director. “Youngkin did all of this with no input from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups nor subject matter experts. Throughout the comment process, though, Virginians made it clear that LGBTQ+ youth deserve safety, respect and the opportunity to thrive.”

The new guidelines can be found here.

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Anti-drag & Pride protest in suburban Virginia just outside of D.C.

Fairfax Mayor Catherine Read, who attended, said that the city is paying for the event. Other sponsors included George Mason University

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Anti-LGBTQ+ protestors gathered outside Old Town Hall in Fairfax City, Virginia, to protest the city’s pride celebration. (Photo Credit: Public Advocate of the United States /Instagram)

FAIRFAX CITY – Fairfax City Council declared June as LGBTQ Pride Month, with a celebration planned at Old Town Hall on Saturday, June 3, to include a drag queen performance. Outside of the event in front of the building roughly two dozen people gathered in protest of the city’s Pride event.

According to the local conservative right publication the Washington Examiner, the protest was coordinated by Stacy Langton, a Fairfax County resident, who gained notoriety for leading a group of parents protesting two controversial LGBTQ-themed books available in high school libraries in September of 2021, that Langton falsely claimed promoted pedophilia. The Fairfax County School Board, and officials with Fairfax County Public Schools announced they had removed the books from the school libraries to reassess their suitability for high school students.

At the time The Washington Blade reported: “I’m not one of those activist moms or disgruntled moms,” Langton stated in an interview with Fox News. “This is not about being anti-gay, anti-trans or whatever. I would have been there and said every single word I said if this had been the depiction of a heterosexual couple with heterosexual acts – pornography is pornography and I don’t care what the gender is,” she told Fox News.

Langton also appeared in several ads for then candidate, now Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, during the 2021 gubernatorial election.

Also appearing at the protest were members of the Southern Poverty Law Center listed hate group, Public Advocate of the United States, and its leader, Eugene Delgaudio.

The Examiner reported that Fairfax Mayor Catherine Read, who was attending the event, told the tabloid that the city is paying for the event. Other sponsors of the event include George Mason University and Fairfax Ace Hardware.

The announcement from the city published online stated:

FAIRFAX PRIDE

Saturday, June 3rd
5PM – 10PM
Old Town Hall
3999 University Dr., Fairfax

The City of Fairfax and Mason are thrilled to host its inaugural “Fairfax Pride” event on June 3rd, 2023!

While Pride is celebrated 365 days of the year, it’s most recognized during the month of June. Pride Month evolved out of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and has since become a time to reflect and celebrate both the progress and the people of the LGBTQIA+ community.

This collaborative event will kick off In Old Town Hall with informational vendors from both Mason campus and the NOVA area, as well as children’s activities, such as face-painting, Fairy Hair, crafts and more! Later in the evening, a warm welcome will be given by representatives from both the City of Fairfax and Mason, to commemorate this exciting new event. The event will conclude with a dance party featuring several drag queen performances throughout the evening.

All are invited and welcome to attend! 

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LGBTQ ally Rep. Gerry Connolly’s staff attacked in district office

The suspect is 49-year-old Xuan Kha Tran Pham, who attacked staff sending two to local hospital with non-life threatening injuries

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Congressman Gerry Connolly speaking at a protest outside the NRA's national headquarters on Waples Mill Road in Fairfax County, VA. May 25, 2022. (Photo Credit: Office of Rep. Gerry Connolly)

FAIRFAX CITY, Va. – An assailant armed with a metal baseball-style bat charged into the office of Virginia 11th District U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly, (D) Monday morning looking for the congressman and attacked staff sending two to local hospital with non-life threatening injuries according to the Fairfax City Police.

In a press release, Fairfax Police identified the suspect as 49-year-old Xuan Kha Tran Pham, a Fairfax County resident. Investigators told local media outlets that one of the victims was an intern who was on her first day on the job, the other a senior aide who was hit in her head with the metal bat. Pham also damaged parts of the office on the first floor of an office building at at 10680 Main Street by breaking glass and shattering computers.

 

On Monday afternoon, Connolly released the following statement:

“This morning, an individual entered my District Office armed with a baseball bat and asked for me before committing an act of violence against two members of my staff. The individual is in police custody and both members of my team were transferred to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Right now, our focus is on ensuring they are receiving the care they need. We are incredibly thankful to the City of Fairfax Police Department and emergency medical professionals for their quick response.

“I have the best team in Congress. My District Office staff make themselves available to constituents and members of the public every day. The thought that someone would take advantage of my staff’s accessibility to commit an act of violence is unconscionable and devastating.”

NBC News has reported that Pham filed a lawsuit against the CIA last year in which he claimed the agency had been “wrongfully imprisoning [him] in a lower perspective based on physics,” and alleging that he is being “brutally tortured… from the fourth dimension.”

The complaint, which seeks $29 million in damages, aligns with the beliefs of conspiracy theorists who claim they are being “gangstalked,” or secretly watched and psychologically tortured using nonexistent technology.

Rep. Connolly is a long term ally of the LGBTQ+ community in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia where he has previously served as the Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

He is an original cosponsor of the Equality Act and was one of the voices in opposition to the ban by former President Trump on the military service by transgender Americans. The Human Rights Campaign has recognized Congressman Connolly commitment to LGBTQ+ Americans as an ally with a 100% rating for a sixth consecutive term.

Virginia congressman’s office staff attacked by bat-wielding suspect:

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Virginia County pulls funding over arts center drag design class

The Arts Center in Orange “indefinitely” postponed the class by the drag performer after opposition by county board members

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The Orange County, Virginia Board of Supervisors (Photo Credit: Orange County, Virginia government)

ORANGE, Va. – The Orange County, Va., Board of Supervisors last week released its proposed fiscal year 2024 budget that removes $9,000 in funding it approved last year for the nonprofit Arts Center In Orange in response to plans by the center to host a design class taught by a local drag performer.

According to Equality Virginia, the statewide LGBTQ rights organization, members of the Board of Supervisors “have specifically tied the revocation of funding to this planned event,” an action that Equality Virginia calls “harmful and insidious” and that follows attacks on drag shows and drag performers surfacing in many other states.

“Earlier this year, the same Board also voted to revoke a $4,500 matching grant from the Arts Center, which was allocated and approved in the prior year’s budget,” Equality Virginia says in an April 5 statement. “Both of these actions happened after the Arts Center planned an event with a local drag performer who was scheduled to teach a class on makeup, costuming and hairstyling,” the statement says.

News media outlets in the Orange County area have reported that the Arts Center in Orange “indefinitely” postponed the class by the drag performer after opposition by county board members and others first surfaced in January. Nick Morrow, a spokesperson for Equality Virginia, said the Board of Supervisors continued efforts to defund the Arts Center even though the “drag” class has never taken place.  

In an April 4 story, the Orange County Review reports that it obtained an email dated Jan. 18 in which Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Johnson expressed agreement with a constituent who requested that the county revoke its funding of the Arts Center because the planned class was to be taught by the drag performer.

The newspaper quoted the individual who wrote to Johnson asking that the funds be revoked as telling Johnson the revocation was needed to “protect children from adults who prey on them with sexually explicit agendas.” The newspaper reported, “Johnson said that he agreed with the individual’s comments and outlined the board’s plans to defund the center through the county’s budget process.”

The Orange County Review also reports that the Orange County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at its April 18 meeting and a vote on the proposed budget was scheduled to take place one week later on April 25. 

“As politicians across the country attack drag performers and drag shows, purposely spreading disinformation about what drag actually is, the Orange County Board of Supervisors is hopping on the political bandwagon,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa Rahaman in the group’s statement.

“It’s disappointing and sad,” Rahaman said. “Drag is not inherently harmful. Drag is not inherently insidious. But yanking funding and suppressing programming because it doesn’t align with their narrow worldview is both harmful and insidious,” she said. “The Board should be ashamed of itself.”

When asked about the board’s decision to revoke funding for the Arts Center in Orange, Board of  Supervisors Chair Johnson told the Orange County Review that the board has never attempted to tell any of the groups it funds how they should spend the funds they receive from the county.

But Johnson added, “as with any discretionary spending, the Board can choose to increase, decrease, or eliminate funding to any specific entity.”

The Washington Blade couldn’t immediately determine whether an official with Equality Virginia or representatives of other LGBTQ organizations or activists planned to speak at the April 18 public hearing before the Orange County Board of Supervisors in support of reinstating funding for the Arts Center.

Orange County is located about 30 miles west of Fredericksburg, Va. and about 15 miles south of Culpeper.

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Virginia bill would force school staff to out transgender students

HB 1434 would require schools to notify parents if they are trans & prevent trans kids from being acknowledged as who they are in school

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Virginia State Del. Tara Durant (R-Fredericksburg) (Photo via Twitter)

RICHMOND – Virginia state Del. Tara Durant (R-Fredericksburg) on Monday introduced a bill that would require school personnel to notify a student’s parents if they are transgender.

House Bill 1707 would require “any person licensed as administrative or instructional personnel by the Board of Education and employed by a local school board who, in the scope of his employment, has reason to believe, as a result of direct communication from a student, that such student is self-identifying as a gender that is different than his biological sex to contact, as soon as practicable and in accordance with board guidelines, at least one of such student’s parents to ask whether such parent is aware of the student’s mental state and whether the parent wishes to obtain or has already obtained counseling for such student.” 

The Fredericksburg Republican who is running for the Virginia Senate introduced HB 1707 two days before the Virginia General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session begins.

State Del. Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach) has introduced a bill that would ban trans athletes from school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. State Del. Jason Ballard (R-Giles County)’s House Bill 1434 would ban “any school board member or school board employee from changing the name of a student enrolled in the local school division on any education record relating to such student unless the member or employee receives a change of name order for such student that was issued in accordance with relevant law.”

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin last September announced his plans to revise guidelines for trans and nonbinary students that his predecessor, Democratic Ralph Northam, signed in 2020. The Virginia Department of Education has not announced when the proposed changes will take effect.

State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly trans woman elected to a state legislature in the U.S., on Tuesday told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview that HB 1707 would forcibly out trans students. The Manassas Democrat who is also running for the state Senate further noted HB 1434 would “prevent trans kids from being acknowledged as who they are in school.”

“This is what happens when straight people, never in their lives, have worried about being outed to other people,” said Roem.

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Proposed revision of Virginia trans student protections objected to

All of the commission’s five Democratic members voted to object to proposed revisions, all four Republican members did not

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Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera answers questions from Virginia’s Joint Commission on Administrative Rules on Dec. 19 about the proposed 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools. (Nathaniel Cline/Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND – Members of the Virginia Joint Commission on Administrative Rules on Monday voted to formally object to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed revisions to guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

The Virginia Mercury reported all of the commission’s five Democratic members voted to object to Youngkin’s proposed revisions, while all four Republican members opted to support them. The commission will now send an objection letter to the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Registrar of Regulations.

Youngkin in September announced his plans to revise the guidelines that his predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam, signed into law in 2020. The Joint Commission on Administrative Rules’ vote took place on the same day it held a hearing on the proposed policy revisions. 

Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa Rahaman and state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) are among those who testified against them. Education Secretary Aimee Guidera spoke in favor.

“The policy was submitted for public comment and we are still reviewing those comments,” said Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter in an email to the Washington Blade. “The governor does not support the commission’s decision.”

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Virginia shopping center hit with homophobic, racist graffiti

Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Michele Bowman said another, similar display of hate graffiti was found on Saturday at the nearby Dulles Landing

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Graffiti at a Loudoun County shopping center is being investigated as a hate crime. (Photo Credit: Timbers Landscaping Care LLC/Facebook)

SOUTH RIDING, Va. – The Loudoun County, Va., Sheriff’s Office is seeking help from the public for its investigation into an incident on Friday, Dec. 2, in which an unidentified suspect or suspects spray-painted anti-LGBTQ, racist, and anti-Semitic graffiti at a shopping center.

A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s office told the Washington Blade the graffiti, which is considered an act of vandalism and is being investigated as a possible hate crime, was found painted on the side of a building that once housed a Food Lion supermarket at the South Riding Town Center, which is located near Dulles airport about four miles west of Chantilly.

The Sheriff’s Office did not disclose the exact wording of the graffiti. But news media reports, including a report by WTOP News, said the graffiti included Nazi swastikas, racial slurs, and the phrase “stop white genocide.”

Among the graffiti messages was the symbol “1488,” which indicates “the perpetrator’s endorsement of white supremacy and its beliefs,” according to a statement from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington as reported by the local publication Inside NOVA.

Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Michele Bowman said another, similar display of hate graffiti was found on Saturday behind the Bed Bath & Beyond building at the nearby Dulles Landing shopping center. Bowman said the Sheriff’s Office is also investigating that incident.

“There is no place in society for this behavior,” a statement released by the Sheriff’s Office on Facebook says.

“The LCSO takes this very seriously and is working with our station detectives, School Resource Officers, and our FBI Task Force member, and is reviewing social media and other potential leads to determine who is responsible for this vile act,” the statement says.

“We are asking the public for their assistance as well,” it says. “If anyone has information that may be helpful, please call Detective Fornwalt at 703-777-1021,” the statement says.

Loudoun4All, which describes itself as an advocacy organization that supports equality, announced on Facebook that it organized a rally on Sunday, Dec. 4, at the site of the graffiti at South Riding Town Center to speak out against hate.

The announcement says the group also arranged for volunteers to help remove the graffiti after learning that the Sheriff’s Office does not have authority to remove such graffiti on private property.

“About 50 local residents joined the rally, which took place along the side of Tall Cedars Parkway where the graffiti had been painted,” the group said in its Facebook posting. “Rally goers held signs with inclusive and supportive messages and waved at cars driving by,” the posting says.

It says that local resident Quante Timbers, the owner of Timbers Landscaping Care, LLC, volunteered his services by bringing a power washer to the site to remove most of the graffiti.

“Where his hoses wouldn’t reach, local kids converted the spray-painted message of hate into chalked messages of love,” the Loudoun4All statement says.

Loudoun Sheriff’s spokesperson Bowman said there were no updates to report on the investigation as of Monday, Dec. 5.

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