1 Arrested, 1 Injured During LGBTQ and Race Equity Debate at School Board Meeting
Some parents of students at Loudoun County Public Schools are fired up about school board’s proposed policy on the treatment of transgender students and how schools should teach about race.
Loudon County, Virginia — A Loudoun County School (LCPS) Board meeting on June 22 erupted into chaos after attendees got disorderly and disruptive, expressing anger over the school’s proposed policy regarding race equity and the treatment of transgender students. It resulted in the arrest of Scott T. Smith, 48, for disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice. Another person received a summons for trespassing and third person sustained minor injuries, reports NBC News 4.
Things got unruly when the school board unanimously voted to shut down the public comment portion of the meeting due to the poor decorum repeatedly exhibited by attendees. Nearly 260 people had signed up to speak at the meeting.
The incident happened just a few months after a teacher at LCPS testified that he would not follow new transgender policies because he believed it would harm children and violate his religious beliefs. He was placed on paid administrative leave, then reinstated after a ruling by a District Court judge, citing the teacher’s rights to speech and religious liberty.
The proposed Policy 8040, which many parents of LCPS oppose, protects the rights of transgender students, calling for all students to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation, transgender status or gender identity. It would affect staff use of transgender students’ names and pronouns; transgender students’ access to sports, restrooms and locker rooms; and training for school mental health professionals.
Some of those who oppose the policy held signs at the school board meeting that read, “We the parents stand up,” “Education not Indoctrination” and “There are two genders: male and female. Trust (teach) the science.”
School board Chair Brenda Sheridan said, “We will not back down from fighting for the rights of our students and continuing our focus on equity.”
Also discussed at the meeting was the school’s commitment to race equity. The district was one of the last in the nation to desegregate, reports NBC Washington. Although students of color make up more than half of the LCPS enrollment, a 2019 report by a consulting group suggests that LCPS has significant room for improvement. Some of the recommendations include more diverse hiring, developing a better understanding of economic diversity as it relates to school, and administering equal discipline policies.
However, many of the meeting attendees appeared to not understand the difference between LCPS’ race equity efforts and critical race theory being debated in the media. Critical race theory has become a hotly contested topic recently, with some opposing its teaching in schools. However, LCPS officials say the theory is not being taught on their campuses. Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said “misconceptions and misinformation” in the media were distorting the equity work being done in the district, reports CNN.
State troopers and county sheriff’s deputies provided security at the meeting due to board members previously receiving death threats.
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