by Cathy Ruse
January 13, 2017
Tuesday night in a 5-4 midnight vote, the Loudoun County School Board rejected a proposal to create a new identity category for transgenderism in its school system.
This is a big win in the “School Board Wars.” Loudoun is the second largest school district in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its proximity to Washington is also important.
The proposal was to add “gender identity” to the policy against harassment and discrimination. This is the genius of the latest wave of LGBT activism: when you wrap your agenda in the cloak of “nondiscrimination,” you win easy votes from those not paying attention, and gain a powerful rhetorical rejoinder. Anyone against you is, by definition, a bigot.
But these so-called “nondiscrimination” measures, cropping up everywhere, go well beyond preventing harassment. And that is by design.
In the case of Loudoun, they would have opened girls’ locker rooms, showers, and sports teams to biological males. Because denying the use of the girls’ shower to a boy who identifies as a girl can be said to be “discriminatory.”
In Fairfax County, which has adopted this new identity category, concerned parents dominate the citizen speaker slots at every bi-monthly board meeting. Sports moms speak of the physical danger their petite daughters now face, with the prospect of facing off against larger, heavier, stronger biological males on the sports field. Religious minorities tell tearful stories of pulling their children out of school. Women who have been victims of sexual assault speak of the trauma their younger counterparts will face as they are forced to share intimate spaces with biological males.
Adopting the new identity category of “gender identity” provides the legal club to beat all students and teachers into compliance with the broader transgender movement agenda—even to the point of silencing dissent and forcing unwanted speech.
What if kids want to start a “Male and Female He Created Them” club? What are the penalties for a Muslim child who addresses his biologically male teacher, “Sir”? Can a student’s Facebook post on the anti-science stance of the transgender movement get him in trouble? In Fairfax it can, according to one school board member.
In Fairfax, the school board is dominated by hardcore leftists. Loudoun County is different. Loudoun has several conservatives, a blue dog Democrat, apparently even a “reasonable” liberal.
On Tuesday night, 500 people filled the Loudoun County School Board meeting room. A dozen police officers kept another 300 outside.
There were television cameras. And lots of young people with angry faces holding rainbows.
Over 200 people spoke; each was allotted one minute.
When the matter was first sprung on the public in December, speakers in favor of the policy change outnumbered those against it by a margin of 10-1. But on Tuesday night things were different.
While about a dozen people argued for the nullification of male and female in Loudoun schools, a dozen others rose in opposition: A pastor, a priest, and a bunch of moms and dads.
The Loudoun School Board forbids audible reactions from the audience. Only “silent applause” is allowed, which looks like a bunch of people wiggling “Jazz Hands” in the air. The new Chairman, Jeff Morse, reminding the audience of the rules, actually called it “Jazz Hands.”
There is no silent disapproval symbol. At least not one announced from the dais. (The obvious one is likely not permitted.)
The pastor speaking against the transgender measure got hissed. Which, technically, is not silent.
Since the December surprise, nearly 600 people had signed a petition against the policy change, generating 600 individual email letters to each board member urging a no vote.
In addition, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington had alerted its Loudoun County parishes through flyers and emails.
All of this made a difference, and in the end, the measure failed by the smallest of margins.
But it failed.
“Male” and “Female” live on in Loudoun County. For now.