The school board of northern Virginia’s Loudoun County shut down a June 22 public discussion of transgender policy after scores of attendees railed against progressive “indoctrination” in the local curriculum and demanded the resignation of board staff.
As the crowd was removed from the premises, a fight broke out and two men were arrested by police for trespassing on school board property and “illegal assembly.”
The Tuesday evening meeting at the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) building included a public comment session for discussion on the proposed policy 8040, which would expand requirements for staff conduct around students who identify as transgender.
The school board and its supporters argue that policy 8040 is necessary to protect transgender students and follow state legislation, while concerned residents see the current and proposed policies as inappropriate endorsement of transgender and critical race politics, violating parents’ rights and educational ethics.
But the public comments, where 259 people signed up to speak, soon turned into a display of the weeks-long debate over the place of ideology in the classroom. After several bouts of booing and cheering, LCPS superintendent Scott Ziegler cut off the discussion, saying the crowd’s behavior disturbed the order of the meeting.
“While the policy won’t be voted on until August, groups saw the school board meeting as one final opportunity to express their outrage over the matter,” local outlet Loudoun Now reported Wednesday.
Both conservatives and progressives took the meeting as a venue to voice their opinions, with a particularly impassioned showing from those among the former.
When the seventh speaker, the mother of a transgender student, said there was hate “dripping from the followers of Jesus in this room,” she was booed by the Christian attendees, which led to a five-munite recess and a warning from board staff that the meeting would be ended if another disruption occurred.
“The board issued multiple warnings asking the crowd to settle down and ‘respect each other,’ but after a former Republican state senator brought attention to the district’s implementation of critical race theory and condemned the hundreds of parents, teachers, and even board members who joined an ‘anti-racist’ private Facebook group that doxxed parents opposed to CRT, the crowd erupted into cheers and the school board unanimously voted to abruptly end the meeting,” conservative website The Federalist reported.
The retired state senator, Dick Black, led the crowd in singing “The Star Spangled Banner” after Ziegler cut him off. Just 51 of the speakers got their turns to talk.
Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan released a statement condemning the crowd’s behavior following the meeting, accusing dissenters to the board’s policy of using “the public comment period to disrupt our work and disrespect each other.”
“Dog-whistle politics will not delay our work. We will not back down from fighting for the rights of our students and continuing our focus on equity,” Sheridan stated.
Critical race theory
In the backdrop of the transgender row is a debate about critical race theory, which has seen growing influence on campuses and in the media. CRT takes the position that race is a social construct “used to oppress and exploit people of colour,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Critics of the theory say that CRT encourages anti-white sentiment and division among students, while negating the importance of individual choice and moral conduct.
In The New Normal, a video series by the Washington Post, hostess Nicole Ellis promoted “white accountability groups” as a means of experiencing a “period of deep shame” and “acknowledging the harm our ancestors have caused.”
Xi Van Fleet, a Chinese-American mother in Loudoun County, said at an earlier LCPS meeting that the introduction of CRT and teaching inspired by the theory in local schools resembled the onslaught against traditional heritage in the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) launched by communist leader Mao Zedong.
“The communist regime used the same critical theory to divide people, the only difference is that they used class instead of race,” Xi, who grew up during the Cultural Revolution, said at the June 9 meeting.
In the Cultural Revolution, Chinese citizens were divided into different ranks of “red” and “black” classes, with those descended from intellectuals and landowners being the “blackest” and thus least revolutionary. Millions of people were murdered or driven to suicide in the campaign, which also saw intense conflict and sometimes outright warfare between rivaling “Red Guards” and the Chinese military.
‘In the name of inclusivity’
Policy 8040 is just the most recent in a series of transgender-related regulations proposed or introduced by the school board.
At a board meeting on June 8, eighth-grader Jolene Grover spoke out against a draft policy allowing the use of facilities “that correspon[d] to their gender identity.”
“Boys are reading erotica in the classroom next to girls and you want to give them access to girls’ locker rooms and you want to force girls to call those boys ‘she,’” Jolene told the board. “You do this in the name of inclusivity while ignoring the girls who will pay the price. Your policies choose boys’ wants over girls’ needs,” she said, while commenting that for many students, sexual identities had become as superficial as a hairstyle.
“When woke kids ask me if I was a lesbian or a trans boy because I cut my hair short, it should tell you these modern identities are superficial,” she said.
The transgenderism controversy also hit a teacher, Byron “Tanner” Cross, who was fired for his refusal to apply students’ preferred pronouns. A Virginia court has ordered the school district to walk back the termination.
At the June 22 meeting, speakers asked the school district to withdraw their appeal of the court decision.
And echoing Jolnee’s concerns, one female student who spoke on Tuesday said that “girls’ bathrooms do not exist to validate identities,” according to the Washington, D.C. area’s WTOP News.
“Boys who identify as girls are no different from boys who identify as boys, except in their feelings about themselves,” she said. “We have separate bathrooms because of what our bodies do in them. Bodies matter. Calling girls bigots because they don’t want to use the toilet and a stall next to a boy or get undressed next to a boy is cruel and wrong.”