April 14, 2017 at 10:43 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Va. Supreme Court dismisses Fairfax school district lawsuit

The Virginia Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit that challenges the Fairfax County School Board’s LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy.

The Virginia Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit that challenges the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Fairfax County School District’s nondiscrimination policy.

The Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit against the policy on behalf of Traditional Values Coalition President Andrea Lafferty and an unnamed minor and his parents.

Members of the Fairfax County School Board added sexual orientation and gender identity to the district’s nondiscrimination policy in November 2014 and May 2015 respectively. The Liberty Counsel argues the so-called Dillon Rule prohibits school boards from adding LGBT-specific provisions to their nondiscrimination policies unless the Virginia General Assembly were to pass a law allowing them to do so.

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Brett Kassabian dismissed the lawsuit in March 2016. Senior Justice Leroy F. Millette, Jr., upheld the decision, noting Lafferty and the other plaintiffs did not have legal standing to challenge the inclusion of gender identity and sexual orientation in the Fairfax County School District’s nondiscrimination policy.

FCPS Pride, a group that represents LGBT employees of the Fairfax County School District, in a statement said it welcomes Thursday’s ruling.

“The court’s ruling, for now, means that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students can go to school knowing they have protections from discrimination or harassment,” it said. “Parents of these students are reassured that their children can have equitable access to education as their peers. It makes our schools safer and more welcoming for everyone.”

Liberty Counsel Chair Mat Staver on Thursday said his organization may consider additional legal action against the policy.

“Liberty Counsel is not finished fighting for the safety of Jack Doe and public school students in Fairfax County,” he said in a statement. “We are exploring all possible avenues to further challenge these policies and are confident that we will prevail when the courts reach the merits of these challenges.”

4th Circuit refuses to expedite Grimm case

Millette issued his ruling less than two months after President Trump rescinded guidance on how public schools should accommodate trans students.

The U.S. Supreme Court on March 28 was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm, a trans student who alleges the Gloucester County School Policy that prohibits him from using the boys bathroom or locker room violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The justices remanded the Grimm case to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond after Trump rescinded the federal government’s guidance for trans students. The federal appeals court last week denied a motion to expedite it.

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

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