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Fairfax County schools defy Youngkin policies for trans, nonbinary students

FCPS Pride organized rally in Falls Church on Aug. 15.



Students, teachers, administrators and activists march along Gallows Road in Falls Church, Va., on Aug. 15, 2023, in support of Fairfax County Public Schools' decision to disregard the new 'model policies' for transgender and nonbinary students issued by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's administration. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A group of activists organized by FCPS Pride held a rally and march near Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church on Aug. 15 to support transgender, nonbinary and gender expansive youth in Fairfax County Public Schools.

Teachers, students, administrators and activists were joined by elected officials in praising the statement issued earlier in the day by FCPS Superintendent Michelle Reid, which assures constituents that the current Fairfax County policies for trans and nonbinary students will remain unchanged.

The Virginia Department of Education issued a model policy that rolls back protections for trans and gender non-conforming students. Advocates warn that the new state policies directly harm trans, nonbinary and gender expansive students.

In response to the state policy announcement, Reid publicly responded in a letter on Aug. 15. “We have concluded our detailed legal review and determined that our current FCPS policies are consistent with federal and state anti-discrimination laws as required by the new model policies.”

“Let me be clear that FCPS remains committed to fostering a safe, supportive, welcoming and inclusive school environment for all students and staff, including our transgender and gender expansive students and staff,” the statement continues.

Reid announced in the statement that FCPS would retain current county policies: Including that students continue to be addressed by their chosen names and pronouns; provided with access to facilities, activities and trips consistent with their gender identity; and continue to have their privacy respected regarding gender expansive or trans status, legal name, or sex assigned at birth. These Fairfax County policies are in direct opposition to the policies announced by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration.

A group of Fairfax student and teacher activists were joined by Fairfax County School Board members Karl Frisch and Laura Jane Cohen, state Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church), members of faith communities and representatives from the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers union (FCFT) in a rally and march at Luther Jackson Middle School in support of the Fairfax policy announcement.

“This is about making sure that every child can show up in our schools without the weight of the world on their shoulders so they can focus on learning,” Karl Frisch, who is the school board’s vice chair, told the assembled activists. “Protecting them from the weight of the bigotry out there so that they can focus on getting the education that we are offering them in our school buildings.”

The Youngkin administration policies are being debated in districts statewide and have already been adopted by Spotsylvania County Public Schools.

Speaking with the Washington Blade, Frisch elaborated.

“It’s important to stand with our transgender and gender expansive students and their families and our staff,” he said. “Today the superintendent made it clear that FCPS, Fairfax County Public Schools, will continue to abide by federal and state law that requires us, rightly so, to support and protect and affirm our transgender and gender expansive students and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

“They are teaching the rest of the commonwealth a lesson on how to handle a bully.” said Simon, who praised Reid and FCPS. “Because that’s what Glenn Youngkin and his administration are: They are an administration full of bullies who want to take out their frustration and anger and distract us from their own failings by taking on our trans and nonbinary students. The only way to stand up to that is to say, ‘no, we’re not going to do it. Go away. Leave us alone.’ We’re doing it the right way here in Fairfax County.”

FCFT Treasurer Emily Vanderhoff said she has “heard from these families that the parents and their children have been scared about what school is going to look like for their child when they walk in the door on Monday. I know that teachers and other school staff need to know that they want to affirm these students and that they need to know that their district has their back.”

The gathered community activists marched on the sidewalk along Gallows Road carrying signs and chanting support for trans students’ rights following the rally.

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)


Historic marker to honor Lilli Vincenz in Arlington

Pioneering activist co-founded Blade in 1969



Lilli Vincenz (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Board of Historic Resources has approved a historic marker that will honor Washington Blade co-founder Lilli Vincenz.

The Arlington County Historic Preservation Program sponsored the marker that will be located at 817-829 S. Carlin Springs Road.

Vincenz, along with Frank Kameny and others, in the 1960s participated in gay rights protests that took place in front of the White House and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Vincenz in 1969 co-founded the Blade.

A Virginia Department of Historic Resources press release says Vincenz hosted the Gay Women’s Open House in her home in Arlington’s Columbia Heights West neighborhood from 1971-1979. It also notes Vincenz’s “documentaries recording significant gay rights marches brought visibility to the movement.”

Vincenz died on June 27, 2023, at the age of 85.

“Dr. Lilli Vincenz was a pioneering leader whose work as a journalist, filmmaker, and psychotherapist empowered the national gay civil rights movement,” reads the Virginia Department of Historic Resources press release.

The marker will be the first one in the state that specifically highlights LGBTQ history. The Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved it and four other markers during their June 20 meeting.

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Federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Va. student blocked from girls sports team

Hanover County School Board approved refusal in 2023



(Bigstock photo)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia on July 3 filed a federal lawsuit against the Hanover County School Board on behalf of a transgender student who was prevented from playing on a sports team consistent with their gender identity.

A press release refers to the student as “Janie Doe,” and the lawsuit notes she is 11 and is in middle school.

The lawsuit notes the school board in 2023 voted not to allow her to “participate in” the girls’ tennis team, even though the ACLU of Virginia noted “she successfully qualified during tryouts, and her parents provided documentation requested by the school board to establish her eligibility.”

The ACLU of Virginia and WilmerHale, a Washington-based law firm, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond.

“School boards have a duty to protect every child’s right to a public education, but by bullying a transgender young person in its district, Hanover County Public Schools are depriving our client of opportunities every public school student should have — and running afoul of federal discrimination protections that Virginia schools are legally required to uphold,” said ACLU of Virginia Senior Transgender Attorney Wyatt Rolla.

The Biden-Harris administration earlier this year released its final Title IX rules that specifically protect discrimination against LGBTQ students based on their gender identity and sexual orientation. The new regulations are slated to take effect on Aug. 1.

Republican Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is among the state attorneys general who have pledged to block the new Title IX rules from taking effect.

The Virginia Department of Education in July 2023 announced the new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students for which Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked. 

Advocacy groups claim the guidelines, among other things would forcibly out trans and nonbinary students. Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, and Prince William County Schools are among the school districts that have refused to implement them. 

The ACLU of Virginia earlier this year filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Hanover County middle school student who is not allowed to participate in a girls sports team. The group filed a second lawsuit on behalf of a York County high school student who alleges her teacher refused to call her by her “correct first name.” 

“Banning trans students from playing sports consistent with their gender identity violates discrimination protections that are there to make sure public schools include all students,” said ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Eden Heilman on July 3. 

“It’s a fallacy to think we have to choose between protecting girls’ sports and transgender youth, and it’s patently unlawful to prohibit trans students from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity — no matter how much adults with an ideological axe to grind may wish to do so,” added Heilman.

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Man went on ‘homophobic rant’ inside Va. pub that displayed Pride flags

Suspect arrested on charges of public intoxication, assaulting police officer



Justin Wayne Hendricks was arrested in the case. (Photo courtesy of the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center)

The Hawk & Griffin British Pub located in Vienna, Va.,  posted a message on Facebook last week saying a man was arrested after going on a “homophobic rant” inside the pub on June 28 when he saw that LGBTQ Pride flags were displayed at the pub for Pride month.

“Last night we had an incident here at the pub when a man came off the street to accost patrons in our beer garden because of our flags displayed for pride month,” the Hawk & Griffin Facebook posting says. “He then spit on our windows and came inside to confront our staff and patrons with homophobic rants,” the posting continues.

“Our manager and staff handled the situation very professionally and police were called to investigate and later arrested a man a couple of blocks away,” the message says. “We want to thank the Vienna Police Department for their quick response. We are and will continue to be community focused and we will never stop working to create and maintain a place of inclusion and tolerance,” the statement concludes.

Vienna police charged Justin Wayne Hendricks, of no known address, with misdemeanor counts of being “drunk in public” and  providing false identification to a police officer and with a felony count of assault on a police officer. A police spokesperson said Hendricks was also found to be in violation of an outstanding arrest warrant from Alexandria, Va., related to a prior charge of failing to register as a sex offender.

The spokesperson, Juan Vazquez, said Hendricks is currently being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. Online records for the Fairfax County General District Court show that Hendricks is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing on Oct. 9.

“On Friday, June 28, around 9:28 p.m. the Vienna Police Department responded to reports of an intoxicated individual threatening customers of the Hawk & Griffin,” a Vienna police statement says. “Upon the arrival of the officers the individual had already left the premises but was promptly located at an address nearby,” according to the statement.

The statement adds that Hendricks was subsequently charged with being drunk in public, providing false information about his identity to police, and assault on a police officer along with being served with the outstanding warrant related to the prior charge in Alexandria of failing to register as a sex offender.

Details of the prior sex offender charge couldn’t immediately be obtained from online court records. However, the online records show that Hendricks has at least a dozen or more prior arrests between 2014 and 2023 on charges including public intoxication, trespassing, and failing to register as a sex offender.

Police spokesperson Vazquez said it would be up to prosecutors with the office of the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney to determine if a subsequent hate crime related charge would be filed in the case.

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