On February 26th, 2019, the Loudoun County School Board voted 5 to 4 to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” language to the LCPS Equal Opportunity Policy. The policy now reads:
POLICY 1040: EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR EQUITABLE, SAFE AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT
The Loudoun County School Board is committed to providing for an equitable, safe and inclusive working environment.
The Loudoun County School Board affirms a commitment to this principle for all persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, age, or genetic information
It is the intent of the School Board of Loudoun County that every policy, practice, and procedure shall reflect this commitment. Behavior that is not unlawful may nevertheless be unacceptable for the educational environment or the workplace. Demeaning or otherwise harmful actions are prohibited, particularly if directed at personal characteristics, including, but not limited to socioeconomic level, sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
What does this mean?
Inevitable Policy Changes:
- Students and staff will be able to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice based on their self-declared “gender identity.”
- It may be considered demeaning or otherwise harmful to use male pronouns for a boy/man who identifies as a girl/woman or to use female pronouns for a girl/woman who identifies as a boy/man. Teachers and staff may be fired for doing so.
- It may be considered demeaning or otherwise harmful to express certain beliefs, religious or secular, about biology and human sexuality.
- Family Life Education curriculum as well as other curriculum may be adjusted to incorporate teachings about sexual orientation and gender identity, including queer theory.
- Students may be taught that it is possible to be born in the wrong body and that gender identity is what dictates what sex a person is, and this could cause serious confusion.
Response from LCPS
The following response was received from the LCPS Director of School Administration on April 12, 2019:
QUESTION: What is current LCPS policy regarding bathrooms, locker rooms, and overnight school trip accommodations? For example, who may enter the girls’ locker rooms and under what circumstances?
ANSWER: There have been no changes regarding practices as to which students may enter restrooms and locker rooms. Bathrooms and locker rooms are designated based on biological sex. Similarly, overnight field trip lodging is designated based on the biological sex of the students. Transgender students are offered a faculty or clinic restroom (a lockable, unisex, single stall) to use or they can continue to use the restroom based on their biological sex.
QUESTION: Regarding those individual students whose situations are handled on a “case-by-case basis,” who are the LCPS staff members responsible for coming up with the individualized plan for bathroom & locker room access, and overnight school trip accommodations? For example, is it the school principal and the guidance counselor? Is the LCPS superintendent involved in the decision-making process?
ANSWER: Principals and guidance counselors work with parents and students on a case-by-case basis on a variety of concerns, including students who may be transgender. Principals make decisions in the context of legal advice provided to them regarding the practices mentioned in my response to your first question above.
QUESTION: What is being done to protect the privacy and safety of female* students from male* students in bathrooms, locker rooms, and overnight school trip accommodations? What is being done to prevent female students from seeing male students’ unclothed or partially unclothed bodies?
ANSWER: Female students continue to receive all of the privacy and safety currently accorded in schools.
QUESTION: Will the parents of LCPS students be notified if policies regarding bathrooms, locker rooms, and overnight school trip accommodations change?
ANSWER: Any changes or revisions to policies will be conducted in an open and transparent fashion. The process for policy revisions includes posting changes to the School Board or the relevant committee agenda on BoardDocs linked on the LCPS webpage. Opportunity is provided for Board, committee and public input and comment prior to the adoption of revisions.
QUESTION: Will parents be notified if curriculum (academic and/or FLE) be changed to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity?
ANSWER: LCPS provides the public with an opportunity to review the FLE curriculum and resources annually. Notice to the public of this opportunity is annually posted on the LCPS website each fall, and the last notice was posted on the LCPS webpage in the fall of 2018. The Board recognizes that differences of opinion may arise concerning the appropriateness of instructional materials. Such differences of opinion are dealt with through the procedures of Paragraph D of School Board Policy 5-7. In addition, a complete copy of all printed FLE materials and a description of all FLE digital materials are kept in the school library or office and made available for review to any parent or guardian during school office hours before and during the school year. The digital materials shall be made available to parents for review, upon request, on the same basis as printed materials are made available. Grade level summaries are available on the LCPS webpage under the link for FLE. Parents and guardians may excuse their child from all or part of the FLE instruction.
* female and male refers to the biological categories based on sex chromosomes, reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics irrespective of “gender identity.”
Current practices and policies regarding bathroom and locker room access as well as overnight field trip sleeping accommodations are not readily accessible in writing to students and parents.
Directives to school administrators from the School Board and Superintendent regarding the Policy 1040 changes have not been published publicly.
The Students Rights and Responsibility handbook can be accessed by clicking HERE.
What can I do?
2. Privacy concerns need to be communicated in writing with your child’s teacher/coach, school principle, the LCPS superintendent, and your district’s school board member. For a sample email/letter, CLICK HERE.
3. Concerns about what your child may be taught regarding gender identity and related topics need to be communicated in writing with your child’s school. For a sample letter for students with an IEP (Individualized Education Program), CLICK HERE. For a sample letter for students who do not have an IEP (majority of students), CLICK HERE.
4. Sign up to speak before the school board during their regular meetings (every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 6:30PM). Send an email to email@example.com to sign up for public comment.
5. Elections for the School Board will be held in November 2019. Find out who the candidates are who are running in your district. Ask them where they stand on these issues.
6. If you feel your child’s religious freedom, freedom of speech, and/or privacy rights have been grossly violated and/or is traumatized by the experience of the implementation of this policy, possible legal resources are (these are outside groups not affiliated with Parent and Child Loudoun):
You are not alone. Many parents and students are very anxious about the changes that were made. It is completely normal to feel upset and to feel betrayed by LCPS leadership.