December 5, 2016 at 11:57 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Anti-LGBT group files brief in Fairfax County schools lawsuit

The Liberty Counsel maintains the Fairfax County School Board's decision to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy violates Virginia law.

The Liberty Counsel maintains the Fairfax County School Board’s decision to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy violates Virginia law.

The Liberty Counsel on Dec. 2 filed a brief with the Virginia Supreme Court in its lawsuit that challenges the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Fairfax County School District’s nondiscrimination policy.

The anti-LGBT legal group maintains that members of the Fairfax County School Board violated state law when they added LGBT-specific protections to the district’s nondiscrimination policy in November 2014 and May 2015 respectively. The lawsuit specifically refers to the Dillon Rule, which the Liberty Counsel argues prohibits school boards from adding sexual orientation and gender identity to their nondiscrimination policy unless the Virginia General Assembly were to pass a law allowing them to do so.

Virginia’s statewide nondiscrimination law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. Attorney General Mark Herring wrote in a 2015 opinion that state law does allow school boards to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in their respective districts.

The Liberty Counsel last December filed a lawsuit against the policy on behalf of Traditional Values Coalition President Andrea Lafferty and an unnamed minor. The complaint also names his parents and two of their friends as defendants.

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Brett Kassabian dismissed the lawsuit earlier this year. The Liberty Counsel appealed the decision to the Virginia Supreme Court, which announced in September that it would consider the case.

“Petitioners respectfully request that this court reverse the decision of the 17 circuit court and declare the (Fairfax County School) Board’s action void under the Dillon Rule,” reads the brief.

The Traditional Values Coalition endorsed Fairfax County School Board member Elizabeth Schultz’s 2015 re-election campaign. The Republican who represents the Springfield District is the only member of the school board who voted against the inclusion of gender identity in the district’s nondiscrimination policy.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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