Fairfax County Board formally opposes Youngkin’s policy on transgender students

Students wear and wave Pride flags at Fairfax High School’s walkout (photo by Carys Owens)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is formally opposing Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed model policies that would limit the rights of transgender and other gender-nonconforming students.

In a letter approved at a board meeting today (Tuesday), board chairman Jeff McKay said that the policies would have a negative effect on the county’s economic position and cites the human impact on students. Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity voted against the proposal.

“Your model policies – and the discrimination inherent to them – will have a chilling effect on our continued ability to attract the world’s most innovative companies to Fairfax County. To put it bluntly, discrimination is bad for business,” the letter, which is addressed to the Virginia Department of Education, states.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw noted that the proposal policy is contradicted by U.S. Supreme Court decisions and other legal precedent.

“Thankfully, many school system in the Commonwealth don’t intend to adopt them,” Walkinshaw said.

When voting against the proposal, Herrity questioned why the county was weighing in on a proposal related to the school system when other issues — like declining enrollment, learning loss, and the achievement gap — need exploration as well.

“My biggest problem with the letter, I don’t see any staff working on this at all,” Herrity said. He also said parents need to be involved in “critical decisions of this magnitude,” adding that parental permission to give a child an aspirin in schools.

McKay responded by stating that the board’s letter is part of the  state’s education department call for public comment on the proposal — a comment period that ends tomorrow.

His letter also says that the policies put the county’s children at risk by denying support and affirmation to transgender students.

“A young LGBTQ person attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the United States. Key drivers of high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among transgender youth are the lack of social support and affirming experiences that they often face,” the letter states.

The proposed policies are at odds with the school system’s current policies that affirm students’ rights to accessing restrooms based on their gender identity and being called by their chosen names and pronouns. FCPS moved to update its previous policy — last amended in 2020 — based on state recommendations.

A spokesperson told FFXnow that the school system did not have more information to share about its position on the state’s policies. FCPS Superintendent Michelle Reid sent to families last month, stating that FCPS was reviewing the draft policies.

This is not the first time McKay has publicly questioned the draft policy. Earlier this month, McKay told FFXnow that the school system may have legal grounds to go against the model policies.

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