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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)


Elected officials turn out for annual Equality NoVa Ice Cream Social

Northern Virginia LGBTQ group stresses ‘political awareness, education’



Freddie Lutz, on right, and his husband Johnny Cervantes host the annual ice cream social. (Photo courtesy of Lutz)

Four LGBTQ supportive members of the Virginia General Assembly and two candidates running for seats on the Arlington County Board were among more than 100 people who turned out on Sunday, Sept. 24, for the LGBTQ organization Equality NoVa’s annual Ice Cream Social.

The event was held at the Arlington, Va. home of Freddie Lutz, owner of the Arlington gay bar and restaurant Freddie’s Beach Bar, and Lutz’s husband, Johnny Cervantes.

Daniel Hays, president of Equality NoVa, told those attending the event in introductory remarks that Equality NoVa, which recently changed its name from the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA), was founded in 1981 and is the oldest continuously operating LGBTQ organization in Virginia.

In an announcement in April the group said the name change came after it had taken on for some time the activities and representation of the now-defunct LGBTQ groups in Alexandria and Fairfax counties and had expanded its operations to cover most if not all the regions known as Northern Virginia.

Hays noted that the group is a nonpartisan organization that doesn’t endorse candidates for public office but organizes educational and political awareness events and awareness campaigns on issues impacting LGBTQ people related to statewide and local government agencies and officials.

The elected officials attending the event were Virginia House of Delegates members Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria & Fairfax), Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (D-Alexandria & Arlington), and Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax).

Also attending was Virginia State Sen. Barbara Favola, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun Counties.

Joining the state lawmakers attending the Equality NoVa social were Arlington County Board candidates Maureen Coffey and Susan Cunningham and Arlington County School Board candidate Miranda Turner.

Many of those attending the event said they were rooting for the re-election of Herring, Bennett-Parker, Watts, and Favola in the upcoming Virginia elections in November. All members and candidates for the General Assembly will be on the ballot in an election that political observers say could decide which party controls both houses of the state legislature.

Currently, Democrats control the 40-member Virginia Senate by a margin of 22-18 seats. Republicans currently control the House of Delegates by a margin of 51 to 46 seats, with three vacancies in the 100-member House.

With Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) putting in place through executive action public school policies that LGBTQ activists consider hostile and discriminatory for transgender students, LGBTQ activists are hopeful that a Democratic takeover of the House of Delegates would result in a reversal of Youngkin’s school policy.

Some of the activists attending the Equality NoVa event said they were fearful that a Republican takeover of the state Senate and if Republicans retain control of the House of Delegates could result in the General Assembly approving the type of anti-LGBTQ legislation passed in Florida and other states.

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Anti-transgender heckler interrupts Danica Roem during debate

Trans lawmaker is running for the Va. state Senate



Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) speaks at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 23, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

An anti-transgender heckler interrupted Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) on Sept. 28 during a debate with her Republican opponent for the state Senate.

The woman heckled Roem during the Prince William Committee of 100-organized debate between her and Bill Woolf that took place at Metz Middle School in Manassas. 

“Thank you for reminding me why I won three elections in this district in Prince William County, which is the most diverse county in all of Virginia and the 10th most nationally where we welcome everyone because of who they are, not despite it, no matter what you look like, where you come from how you worship, if you do, or who you love because you should be able to thrive here because of who you are, never despite it,” said Roem.

Audience members applauded Roem after she responded to the heckler who was eventually removed from the auditorium.

Roem in 2017 defeated then-state Del. Bob Marshall, a vocal LGBTQ rights opponent who co-wrote Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman that voters approved 11 years earlier. Roem subsequently became the first openly transgender person seated in a state legislature in the U.S.

Roem in 2019 became the first out trans state legislator to win re-election. Roem in May 2022 announced she is running to represent the newly redistricted Senate District 30, which includes western Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

Woolf during the Sept. 28 debate did not say whether he would support the repeal of the marriage amendment. Woolf also reiterated his support of a bill that would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents.

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Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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