Update: The Fairfax County School Board recently cancelled the public forum referenced below that was scheduled for July 14 at 6:00 p.m.
Fairfax County Public Schools is the tenth-largest school district in America, and the largest in both Virginia and the greater DC area. In May 2015, the Fairfax County School Board introduced a policy purporting to be about non-discrimination against transgender youth. At a meeting discussing the policy, the auditorium was packed to capacity with parents and other citizens who had unaddressed concerns and unanswered questions.
There are no real answers to date. (Only echoes of the usual bullying epithets hurled at those opposed, such as “haters” and “bigots.”) Another community forum is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on July 14 at Luther Jackson Middle School in Fairfax County. It is likely when nine members of the board intend to codify the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter, a document intended to get all on board with the transgender agenda, including de-sexing changing facilities and sports teams, under the guise of anti-discrimination.
It will include new pronoun protocols (which you can be certain will be vigorously policed) that will punish students for not using the pronouns trans peers prefer, and much, much more. You can read Fairfax County’s adaptation of the guideline on this LGBT site. In the end, this policy basically dictates de-sexing all students across the nation. That’s really what this is about.
In caving to pressure from the Obama administration, the board will also put another nail in the coffin of local self-governance, particularly for the county’s schools. Approving the policy amounts to ceding control of a critical facet of school policy to the federal government. That’s a major leap towards nationalizing K-12 education. And that’s ultimately the point of it all.
As always at such forums, organized, well-funded political activists will swarm and do their level best to silence the voices of concerned citizens. When this all began in May 2015, Board Member Elizabeth Schultz was the sole “nay” vote out of 12. Since the November 2015 elections, Schultz gained two more allies on the board when Tom Wilson and Jeannette Hough were elected. Thank goodness for some balance in these unbalanced times, because one thing is certain: the Fairfax board has completely shut down any attempt at real community dialogue. Schultz, Wilson, and Hough will be going up against long political odds once again.
Board Member Stands Up for Due Process and Free Speech
At its June 9, 2016 meeting, the board ramrodded gender identity language into the “Student Rights and Responsibilities” (SR&R) handbook, which all students will be expected to sign this fall as school begins.
This whole meeting was surreal in the board majority’s willingness to pursue an agenda based on an ideology, with almost no understanding of what it was doing. You’ll see for yourself in the videos that follow. The board’s back-room push came 399 days after it ramrodded a resolution adding gender identity to a now-endless list of protected attributes in Fairfax schools. No clarification, no debate, no real community dialogue for 399 days.
This language means students can and will be punished for any infraction interpreted as discrimination, including not adhering to new pronoun protocols or expressing concern about males trying out for female athletic teams. Make no mistake, the guidelines of “gender identity” will be interpreted at whim, because they are subjective standards designed to allow for just that.
The board has also:
- Loaded up the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee with appointees who appear to be hard core in favor of approving a sexually-expansive curriculum beyond the Virginia Board of Education’s standard curriculum.
- Gotten county public school employees trained in “cultural competence” in order to facilitate the political agenda of the board’s majority. (Perhaps an example of how this is done comes from the Minnesota Department of Education where an entire “gender identity” training session for public school teachers is recorded on YouTube here.)
- Made sure the only community input at open meetings comes from allies of the LGBT agenda. In fact, they typically fill the 10 available speaking slots. It’s rare for a pro-parental rights speaker to get one of those slots, which are given out on a “first come, first served” basis.
- Hired a “consultant” without any paper trail on what he was hired to do or has done regarding the sex education curriculum and transgender policies. There appears to be no report from him available to the public (as the board had assured in May 2015) but his resume is heavily LGBT-driven.
Obviously, all of this is not supposed to be obvious. So, when concerned citizens or some concerned school board members shed some sunlight on such things, they tend to get shut down. Some video below illustrates a few such “highlights” of a five-hour meeting on June 9.
Welcome to a Typical Board Meeting
Schultz explained how pushing the policy language through would harm due process, free speech, and the rights of all students: “Poorly done policy is done fast,” she stated. “There’s no consideration for anybody’s privacy when there is no consideration for some people’s privacy. There’s no consideration for anybody’s rights when there consideration only for some people’s rights.”
Schultz entreated the board to consider allowing a time for at least minimal public input, which of course was flatly denied, as it had been over the course of the 399 days since the policy was first pushed.
“You can parse the words as much as you want, but our board cannot be in a position of doing harm. Delaying this by two weeks doesn’t do anything to anybody. . . . I don’t know how many genders we’re going to define, we’re going to support. Don’t you want to know? . . . I don’t know what gender identity even means according to the school system.”
She implored all to understand that having a dialogue about this issue would preserve everybody’s rights, “predominantly your First Amendment rights.” But no-go.
Wilson pleaded for a bit of real community input: “Can we at least set up a committee to talk?” When he asked for a two-week postponement to allow some real community dialogue, it was such a reasonable request that the best the board majority could come up with was the faux concern that there would be a two-week delay in printing up the booklet in time for it to be ready for September. You can’t make this stuff up. Mind you, this is a school system with a $2.7 billion budget that just implemented another major property tax hike this year.
The amendment was read by board member Ryan McElveen, who initiated the whole process of including gender identity as a protected class a year ago. It stated “No student in Fairfax County Public Schools on the basis of age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, marital status, or disability be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under and education program or activity as required by law.”
But Wilson noted how puzzling the wording was, since the category of “age” is curious for K-12 education. He made the point that no matter how brilliant a three-year-old might be, that child cannot enroll in kindergarten, and neither can a 32-year-old enroll in ninth grade. (This is a subject near and dear to me, as I have written here at the Federalist that age identity discrimination is a far more logical concept than gender identity.)
The big question, Wilson asked, is why there seems to be a “compelling reason to fear conversation?”
Board Member Jeannette Hough simply asked the Board to define gender identity, and the members in favor went totally limp. She tried over and over, and had to repeat her conviction that it was germane to understanding the issue and to voting on any amendment (including one to postpone). Of course it is. The board’s attempt to obfuscate and evade even a simple answer in front of a community anxious to understand is very telling. It is the picture of corruption.
Hough also expressed concerns about what happens to girls’ athletics when males compete on the girls’ teams. Stone silence. Expressions of befuddlement. Finally, the counsel who acted as parliamentarian—who needed help to understand what was being asked—decided a definition of gender identity was not germane to the motion. You can see how in the course of five minutes the board majority did everything they could to avoid answering a very appropriate question.
Hough persisted, saying this issue is complex enough for real town halls and real conversation. Here you can see Chairman Pat Hynes cutting her off because she just wanted some answers. Then Hynes told Hough she is putting staff “on the spot” unfairly. Hough answered: “Yes, we have put them on the spot, because we haven’t had the questions answered and now we’re being asked to hold students accountable for things we don’t have the answers to.”
She continued to try to explain how the regulation creates more questions than it answers for students regarding their rights and responsibilities. We can all see what a brick wall political front this is, but it’s astonishing how easily people are programmed to go along with crafted propaganda manipulations such as the gender identity canard.
Hough later asked Superintendent Karen Garza how they would determine if there was discrimination without a clear definition of gender identity. Watch the silence, followed by the claim that this is a “legal question.” Another question, from Schultz: “Does gender identity apply to a male who identifies as male?” (Now is that a great question? How about a female who identifies as female? Is it discrimination to force a female female to share a restroom with, well, a male? To compete in an athletic event against a male?)
When she asked the question directly to McElveen, the initiator of the policy change, he stated he didn’t know the answer and then told her that her line of questioning was “inappropriate.” Schultz expressed reasonable outrage that question wasn’t even answerable. At that point, Hynes pulled the floor out from under Schultz and abruptly called for the vote.
Schultz summed it all up: “This is the problem with messy problem done quickly without engagement for real policy. Regulation enacts the policy. And it’s gone 399 days without one single board conversation about what it means to enact a policy.” Obviously, transparency in government is on serious life support.
Theater of the Absurd Does not Make Good Government
The farce of Fairfax County School Board meetings like this one is being played out all over the land. It’s an ancient story: Ironclad political majorities and bureaucrats who blindly guard their sinecures versus precious few principled leaders (if you’re lucky enough to have them) who understand and respect the concept of representative government.
We can see in action the way abusive politicians and autocratic bureaucracies punish any voice of dissent. Their tactic is to tease out a spiral of silence to provide greater cover for opaque government and power-mongering. The goal of smear tactics is always the same: total conformity and compliance with total power that is consolidated into the hands of a few, and to kill due process. All in the name of “anti-discrimination” or “freedom.” As usual.
Anyone who thinks this whole chapter ends with rights for transgender students hasn’t been paying attention. That isn’t the way the spiral of power works. This is about consolidating power. As Lord Acton famously noted, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Gender identity is a nice pathway for that because it does so many things to separate people from one another. Just look at the regulations.
What Would Mr. Rogers Say?
The regulations begin with the concocted meme/myth that everybody’s sex—including yours, no matter who you are—was “assigned at birth.” The transgender project injected this false and appalling canard, intended to apply universally, into public discourse. The phrase is intended to tell everybody, including each and every child, that their sex is not real. Instead, it was somehow “assigned” to them by a doctor or someone. How destabilizing is that?
What would Fred Rogers say about that? Remember him? He died in 2003, but was a beloved children’s television host still feted as a hero by leftist “progressives” such as Hillary Clinton. What they won’t tell you is that Mr. Rogers often sang to children to explain that they were fine as boys and girls “just the way” they were born. “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” was a show devoted to helping children navigate the line between reality and “the land of make believe.”
His song on sex differences is called “Everybody’s Fancy, Everybody’s Fine.” It’s about how some of us are born boys (fancy on the outside) and some of us are born girls (fancy on the inside). These lines from his song would probably be enough to get Mr. Rogers a seven-figure fine and imprisonment today. Listen: “Boys are boys from the beginning. (When you’re born a boy baby, you grow up to be a bigger boy and then a man.) Girls are girls right from the start. (When you’re born a girl baby, you become a bigger girl and then a woman.)”
Yet, there is total surrealism today between Mr. Rogers’ intent and the connection between Hillary Clinton and the Fred Rogers Foundation. No doubt Hillary Clinton and the politicized majority of the Fairfax County School Board would shut him up if he sang that song today.
Let’s Stop Mind-Hacking the Kids
Destabilizing a child’s identity—hacking kids’ minds when they are just trying to establish the difference between fantasy and reality—is so wrong. Destabilizing their families through gender ideology is also wrong. And it’s the beginning of a dystopic society.
Throughout history we have seen this sort of transformation due to political correctness happen time and again. Social pressures pushed quickly and stealthily cause people to sign on to any number of far-fetched notions they would have discounted in more clear-headed times.
Disregard for process and dialogue in the case of the Fairfax County School Board is bound to lead to undermining process in other cases throughout the nation. In the course of world history, undermining due process and bowing to groupthink has led to some very disturbing events.
In short, if these false illusions aren’t stopped and if some form of due process is not resurrected the state will gain total control over each and every action of each and every child, and their parents. No questions may be asked.