Loudoun County, Virginia might as well be 2021’s ground zero for the GOP’s war on School boards. Loudoun County is located in the northern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia just on the bubble of the Washington DC Metropolitan area. Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) is the county’s top employer with over 11,000 employees and serving 80,0000 students. . It’s infamous for being one of the last school districts in the nation to desegregate its Schools in 1967.
LCPS is making national headlines again in 2021 where radical parents are making a raucous over mask mandates, critical race theory, policies towards transgender students.
In 2021 All across the nation, school board meetings have devolved into shouting matches over issues such as critical race theory, 1619 project, masks in schools, and COVID-19 vaccines and testing requirements, whether transgender students can participate in sports. Fox News and its favorite political commentator and TV Host Tucker Carlson seem to be paying special attention to Loudoun County School Board in Virginia for the past year or more.
A quick google search and you can find Fox News segments about the radical parents of LCPS students fighting to defend free speech, religious freedom, and the status quo white supremacist version of history The issue of transgender people entered the frat in May of 2021 when elementary school teacher, Tanner Cross was suspended after opposing a change in policy at Loudoun County Public Schools affecting transgender students.
In May of 2021 LCPS pushed to adopt policy 8040, which required schools to provide an equitable, safe and inclusive learning environment for transgender students. allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns, have access to all facilities, and be allowed to participate in sports in their consistently asserted gender identity.
While in attendance during a May school board meeting Tanner Cross voiced his opposition strongly saying he would not comply and that it went against his religious freedom. “I love all of my students, but I would never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” Cross said during a Loudoun County school board meeting on May 25. “I’m a teacher, but I serve God first and I will not affirm a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion, it’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.” Tanner was suspended by LCPS and outside conservative legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom quickly came to his aid to bring his case before the Virginia Supreme Court to be reinstated as a teacher. Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative, Christian legal group, sued the county school board and filed for an emergency injunction on behalf of Cross.
The school board lost in court and a circuit court judge ruled that Tanner Cross be allowed to return to his job at Loudon County Public Schools. Around the same time, the school board was dealing with Tanner Cross and they were pushing to adopt Policy 8040, the LCPS became aware of an allegation that a ninth-grade girl was raped by a ‘gender-fluid’ teen.
The alleged ‘gender-fluid’ teen was put under electronic monitoring and moved from Broad Run High School, in Ashburn Virginia to Stone Bridge High School. Allegations of assault by the ‘Gender-Fluid’ teen arose again from a victim at Stone Bridge some months later.
On June 22nd Scott Smith the father of the rape victim attended the school board meeting where he was arrested after a confrontation Video of his arrest and his attendance at this school board went viral. Quickly LCPS came under scrutiny for how it dealt with the ‘gender-fluid’ teen. Rather than expel them, they were moved and allowed to enroll in a different school while an investigation and charges were pending. The school district has been accused of covering up the incident and trying to deflect attention.
The Loudoun Times-Mirror reported that School Board Members have been receiving violent threats over email for several months In October of 2021, A Judge found The alleged gender-fluid boy, guilty on one count of forcible sodomy and one count of forcible fellatio, both felonies in the state of Virginia., It Can’t be ascertained whether the gender-fluid boy received proper legal representation and advocacy in the same manner as Tanner Cross.
A court of law did find the teen guilty but I am skeptical and worry this teen is the victim of a witch hunt and a patsy. This could be seen as a win for the GOP. Finally, conservatives have their prized bone to wave that Transgenders and nonbinary people are predators that assault victims in bathrooms.
I fear the backlash and response from this will be the rallying cry of conservatives. This could be the thread to unravel all things progressive and wins for Transgender Students in schools. Now is the time for organizations like PFLAG and T.Y.E.S to lead.
I feel it’s time for these organizations to do some sort of minority outreach to garner more involvement and buy-in from brown and black folxs.
This is also the time to fund, train, organize to get black and brown LGBTQ people on school boards as well as motivate and fund black and brown LGBTQ people to go into education as a career. I see similarities and patterns to the story in Loudoun County to a story out of Denver, Colorado by the way a mob came after Tay Anderson, a black Denver school board member.
Perhaps it’s not an ironic coincidence that Tay Anderson is the very board member that pushed for a progressive policy for gender-neutral bathrooms in Denver Public Schools. Just this year a radical DPS parent testified before the Colorado state legislative committee accusing Tay Anderson of sexually assaulting 63 students. This parent testified that all these children had come forward to her for help. Denver Public Schools had a third-party investigation into anonymous sexual assault allegations against Tay Anderson and found them to be unsubstantiated.
Despite being cleared of all charges, Protests followed and a walkout among Denver Public School students was organized where they asked for Tay Anderson’s resignation. Tay Anderson has been the target for being an outspoken Black Lives Matter activist and for being the youngest elected official.
Tay Anderson, fearing for his own life, admitted in an interview that he obtained a bulletproof vest for his own protection.
Karl Rove architect of the modern GOP Modern Money Machine, and a mastermind with a 30-year vision for the Republicans to control the White House. He is praised for single handily creating an entire Voting Bloc that propelled George W. Bush into the White House in 2000 by driving anger and alienation of religious conservatives. He got his start with education and corralling conservative parents to attend School Board meetings and join their PTAs. It seems a blind spot of the left to organize and weaponize around education like the right.
A question, is this strategy a part of the GOP’s playbook? Recruit and plant infiltrators and saboteurs into organizations. Certainly, it is far easier to plant and recruit such persons in an environment like a School Board…a place where people can or tend to find some “common ground”, but these are no longer safe spaces or nonpartisan.
National School Board Association appeals to the Biden administration about the threats school officials face. Transphobe Betsy Devos is gone but it feels like conservative groups and a shadowy network of organizers have popped up with their anti-trans bills. School Boards seem to be the front where these new battles are being waged despite the Biden administration reinstated policies and guidance to protect transgender students in schools but Title IX has been weaponized against us and quickly we are losing ground in schools over whether Transgender students can participate in Sports with Governors DeSantis of Florida and Governor Abbot of Texas signing bills into law barring transgender students from playing or participating on public school teams.
The Biden Administration came under fire just days ago for the Justice Departments Memo issued in response to a letter from the National School Board Association which sent a letter asking for help from the Federal Government in response to violent threats educators, school board members. Attorney General Merrick Garland testified before congress where he was accused of mobilizing the federal law enforcement and prosecutorial powers against parents, but threats against school officials and public officials must be taken seriously as we can not afford to be outflanked by the radical right.
Written by: Elizabeth Toni Clair (She/Her)