Newsletter

Morning Notes

FCPS Mask Requirement Still in Effect — Masks are still required in Fairfax County Public Schools after a hearing in the lawsuit that seven Virginia school boards filed to prevent Gov. Glenn Youngkin from enforcing his optional masks executive order. An Arlington Circuit Court judge did not make a decision in the case yesterday (Wednesday) but said one will be made soon. [FCPS]

Dulles Toll Road Changes Anticipated — With Phase 2 of Metro’s Silver Line expected to open this spring, transportation officials said earlier this week that fares on the Dulles Toll Road will likely rise in 2023 to offset the project’s cost. The road could also switch to an electronic, cash-less system this year, where drivers will pay using their license plate, an EZPass, or a phone app. [Inside NoVA]

No Charges in FCPD Officer Shooting — A Fairfax County police officer who shot and injured a man in Chantilly on Jan. 4 will not face criminal charges, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced yesterday (Wednesday). The prosecutor said the officer “was reasonable” to fear serious injury or death, due to evidence that the resident was wielding a compound bow and arrows. [Patch]

Local Students Speak in Support of Transgender Inclusivity — Some Fairfax County Public Schools students testified in support of policies protecting transgender and gender non-conforming students from discrimination at a General Assembly hearing on Tuesday (Feb. 1). However, a House education subcommittee passed the debated bill, which seeks to halt a requirement that local school boards adopt those policies. [WUSA9]

Registration Begins for Park Authority Classes — “The Fairfax County Park Authority just opened registration for spring classes. Despite an enormous number of available classes to choose from, there are limited spaces available in our facilities, so timely registration via Parktakes Online is recommended to reserve your spot.” [FCPA]

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Musician Rodney Crowell (via Wolf Trap)

Monday (Oct. 11)

  • National Coming Out Day Film Festival — 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. at The Alden (1234 Ingleside Ave.) in McLean — A marathon of films supporting LGBTQ+ individuals will take place to celebrate National Coming Out Day.

Tuesday (Oct. 12)

  • Fiber Art Exhibit: Joyce Carrier — 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the McLean Textile Gallery (6819 Elm St.) — A quilt artist who draws inspiration from birds and other animals shows her work at a gallery that launched last year. Runs through Nov. 5.
  • On Deck with Mercury — 6-7 p.m. at Maggio’s and Scorpio’s Grill (421 Maple Ave. E) — For his monthly community forum, Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton will be joined by public works staff for a look at what goes into the town’s fall leaf collection and snow removal efforts, per Vienna Happenings.

Wednesday (Oct. 13)

  • Pete Davis Author Talk — 7-8 p.m. at Mary Riley Styles Public Library (120 N. Virginia Ave.) in Falls Church — Falls Church writer Pete Davis, who has addressed Harvard grads and authored books, is discussing his newest work.

Thursday (Oct. 14)

  • “The Book of Mamaw” — 7:30 p.m. at The Boro (8350 Broad St.) in Tysons — 1st Stage continues performances of a one-man show about an individual’s experiences growing up with his devout Church of Christ grandmother. Performances occur through Sunday.

Friday (Oct. 15)

  • After 7 Dance Party — 7-10 p.m. at the Old Firehouse (1440 Chain Bridge Road) in McLean — A themed event brings together catered food, drinks, a DJ playing a range of music from hip-hop to Top 40, and more. Cost is $5.

Saturday (Oct. 16)

  • Rodney Crowell at Wolf Trap — 8 p.m. at The Barns (1635 Trap Road) — The two-time Grammy Award winner returns to Wolf Trap. A rescheduled performance for Friday is back to its original date. Tickets start at $42 plus fees. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday (Oct. 17)

  • “An Afternoon with violinist Gil Shaham” — 3 p.m. at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) in Tysons — An encore performance from the National Philharmonic brings the sounds of Beethoven’s “Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61,” a new piece from composer Henry Dehlinger premiering this year, and more to Capital One’s new venue along with two guest artists. Tickets start at $45 plus fees.
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Musician Jim Messina (via Wolf Trap)

The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (Oct. 5)

  • “UNKNOWN” at Wolf Trap — 7:30 p.m. at The Barns (1635 Trap Road) — The opera company UrbanArias has prepared this collection of songs reflecting on military themes and honoring Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial that turns 100 years old this Veterans Day. Tickets start at $44 plus fees. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Wednesday (Oct. 6)

  • “From the Heart: A Transgender Virginia’s Story” — 6:30 p.m. at McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — Ann Murdoch from Equality Virginia’s Transgender Advocacy Speakers Bureau tells her story as a transgender woman and participates in a conversation with the audience. The event is free, but registration is required.
  • Jim Messina with Wesley Dean at Wolf Trap — 8 p.m. at The Barns (1635 Trap Road) — The musician from supergroups like Buffalo Springfield, Poco, and Loggins & Messina will perform at the park Wednesday and Thursday, honoring previous purchases from showings that were canceled in January. Tickets start at $47 plus fees. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday (Oct. 7)

  • “The Book of Mamaw” — 7:30 p.m. at The Boro (8350 Broad St.) in Tysons — 1st Stage kicks off a one-man show about an individual’s experiences growing up with his devout Church of Christ grandmother. Performances occur throughout October.

Friday (Oct. 8)

  • New Legacy Blues: Outdoor Concert — 7 p.m. at Jammin Java (227 Maple Ave. East) in Vienna — This D.C. band covers the greats from Cream to Elvis and more. Tickets are free, but Jammin Java asks guests seated at tables to adhere to its policy of purchasing at least two items.

Saturday (Oct. 9)

  • Farm Day — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cherry Hill Park (312 Park Ave.) in Falls Church — Enjoy pony rides, pumpkin painting, live music, and more. Free to attend. Some activities require cash.
  • Fairfax Symphony Orchestra presents Saint-Saëns & Beethoven — 8 p.m. at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) in Tysons — Experience Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Cello Concerto No. 1” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7” at the FSO’s season-opening concert. Tickets start at $25 plus fee, and seating will be socially distanced.

Sunday

  • McLean Pet Fest — 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd.) — Have your pet or pets participate in a parade, check out an agility course and enjoy the other festivities.
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A Fairfax County Public Schools employee and parent speaks in favor of updates to its student handbook (via FCPS)

Cheers and applause came after the Fairfax County Public Schools board updated its student handbook to better document harmful and suspension-worthy conduct and protect different gender identities and expressions.

The updates that the school board approved Thursday (July 15) ensure that the handbook conforms with FCPS policies supporting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, gender-expansive, and other students (LGBTQ+).

Cementing established protections for students from being intentionally outed or misgendered, the move comes amid intensifying discrimination against transgender people in particular across much of the U.S.

The advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said in May that state legislatures have introduced — and in some cases, adopted — “unprecendented” amount of anti-LGBTQ+ measures, including many that specifically target young people and deal with schools.

Efforts in Loudoun County to adopt a policy ensuring students will be identified by their correct names and pronouns and use bathrooms that match their gender identity led to an ongoing lawsuit and a contentious school board meeting that resulted in an arrest and an injury.

While FCPS added gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy in 2015, the furor in Loudoun unnerved many Fairfax County LGBTQ+ students and staff.

“To the gender-expansive and transgender students and their families who have witnessed these attacks on their simple human dignity, I am sorry,” Providence District Representative Karl Frisch, Fairfax County’s first openly gay school board member, said on Thursday. “You deserve much, much more.”

Frisch detailed many of the approved changes to the Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) book in a blog post:

For the first time ever, as an extension of the school board’s nondiscrimination policy, FCPS regulations, and Virginia code, this document specifically identifies several rights of particular interest to gender-expansive and transgender students. Among them are the right to use facilities that align with their gender identity, the right to be called by their chosen name and pronoun, the right to nondisclosure of their gender identity or sexual orientation, and the right to receive supports that ensure equitable access.

Other updates include a more detailed definition of hate speech, more specific language around the role of school resource officers, and an alignment of the school system’s policies on marijuana with its alcohol policies after Virginia legalized small amounts of the drug for adults 21 and older, effective July 1.

The Fairfax County School Board adopted a regulation stating that students should be called by their chosen name and pronouns, can use locker rooms and restrooms consistent with their gender identity, and can wear any clothing as long as it complies with the dress code in October.

The regulation also banned deadnaming, which has now been prohibited in the SR&R handbook, along with malicious misgendering.

The school board previously approved a regulation addressing many of these issues in July 2016, but FCPS decided to wait on officially implementing it to see the outcome of various court cases and legal issues. Read More

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Chesterbrook Elementary School staff celebrating Pride Month (via FCPS)

(Updated 4:20 p.m.) A contentious meeting over acceptance of transgender students in Loudoun County Public Schools has Fairfax County officials eyeing their own policy and pushing for more equitable regulations to support transgender and gender non-conforming students.

The Loudoun meeting, which discussed a new policy that requires trans students be treated respectfully and allowed to use restrooms and play in sports that align with their gender, comes months after Fairfax County Public Schools adopted similar new regulations in October.

A spokesperson for FCPS said the regulations adopted in October are still undergoing review to ensure they align with state guidelines. An FCPS spokesperson said all regulations are reviewed annually to ensure they are in compliance with new state legislation.

The new regulations grant transgender students access to various facilities consistent with their gender identity and effectively prohibit dead-naming students — using pronouns or names in records that don’t reflect the student’s gender identity.

“They’ve been mulling about it for a few months,” said Robert Rigby, a Latin language teacher at West Potomac High School and co-president of FCPS Pride. “Many students were thrilled. There was a blast of happy messages with multiple exclamation points. They were ecstatic after years of being dead-named in online platforms and in grading and by substitutes. Suddenly, they could just talk to their counselor and get it changed.”

Rigby said there was an “enormous relief” among students. Staff training started in March to prepare and educate teachers about the new regulations.

FCPS had previously added gender identity to the school system’s non-discrimination policy in 2015. Rigby said several factors over the last year helped push FCPS into codifying protections for transgender and gender non-conforming students, crediting:

  • Gavin Grimm’s recent victory when the Supreme Court rejected a Gloucester County school district appeal of a lower court decision that found the schools had violated Grimm’s rights
  • State legislation requiring local school districts to have policies adhering to how individuals identify their gender and requiring access to bathrooms and locker rooms associated with their gender
  • The election of the first openly gay school board member Karl Frisch

“These protections are long overdue,” said Frisch. “If we are truly committed to fostering a caring and inclusive culture, gender-expansive and transgender students must be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. They must be made to feel safe and accepted.”

Others in Fairfax County leadership, including Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay, rebuked the comments made during the Loudoun school board meeting.

Rigby, who has taught at West Potomac High School since 1999, said faculty and parents, along with some students who felt welcome, have helped advocate for the changes, but student advocacy can be sometimes hindered by concerns about subjecting students to humiliations like those on display at the Loudoun meeting.

“Students advocate to us, but quite frankly it’s not incredibly safe and can be very alarming for young LGBTQIA to speak openly at School Board meetings,” Rigby said. “There have been dreadful things said and doxxing, so we caution children and their parents: when you speak publicly, this might happen.”

Rigby said the Loudoun was one of the worst he’s seen.

“We’ve had some dreadful meetings in Fairfax over the years, the worst being May 7, 2015 when they updated the non-discrimination policy,” Rigby said. “It also happened in 2002 when we were talking about a harassment policy. We’ve seen this happen in our county, but Loudoun was worse than anything I’ve ever seen.”

Still, Rigby said overall there’s been remarkable progress in the attitudes of many in the school system over his last two-decades of advocacy.

“I’ve seen attitudes in teachers, parents, and students take a big change,” Rigby said. “It’s changed dramatically. It’s a change beyond my wildest imaginings. It’s relieving and frustrating. I was discussing with a friend last night, another advocate who is a school psychologist, just how far we’ve come and how wonderful it is. It’s taken a long time. There’s an awful lot of work left to do.”

Rigby said FCPS Pride and other organizations are trying to focus now on offering more rounded care for students who may not receive support at home.

“We’re turning our eyes now to children who are housing-vulnerable, who aren’t welcome in families,” Rigby said. “Fairfax is definitely setting up structures to help families and children come to agreement… The school system is putting together these structures to help kids at school and at home.”

Photo via FCPS

Morning Notes

Summer School Delayed for Special Education Students — The families of roughly 1,200 students with special needs were informed last Wednesday (June 23) that their summer school that was supposed to start Monday (June 28) has instead been delayed to the end of July. Fairfax County Public Schools has only been able to hire 75% of the teachers needed to run the special education program. [The Washington Post]

Vienna Hires New Spokesperson — The Town of Vienna has hired Karen Acar Thayer as its new public information officer, effective yesterday (Monday). Responsible for the town’s communications, marketing, and outreach efforts, Thayer’s past experience includes work as a promotional services manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority and as communications director for Falls Church City Public Schools. [Town of Vienna]

Mary Riley Styles Public Library Anticipates August Reopening — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library expects to have an official ribbon cutting for its newly renovated building in early to mid-August with a grand opening celebration to follow in September or October. Construction has been ongoing since early 2020 and includes the addition of more than 6,000 square feet of space. [Falls Church News-Press]

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Transgender Bathroom Case — “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban, handing a victory to transgender rights groups and a former high school student who fought in court for six years to overturn the ban.” [Associated Press/WTOP]

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The Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park is set to welcome back guests this week (Courtesy of Emerging Arts Leaders DC)

The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Monday (June 14)

Tuesday (June 15)

  • Duck Harbor (Online) — 8 p.m. — A heartwarming web series about a bi-coastal love story written by E.M. Lewis and Bob Bartlett, this online, live theatrical performance from 1st Stage airs for free every Tuesday at 8 p.m. All aired episodes and bonus content will also be available through Duck Harbor ALL ACCESS for $15.
  • Walking Meditation (Online) — 3 p.m. — Join health & wellness coach Gretchen Robbins on an afternoon walking meditation session. All you need is your phone, a pair of headphones and an hour to rest and refresh. Register now for more information.
  • Herndon Teen Book Club — 6:30-7:30 p.m. — This week, the Herndon Teen Book Club will be discussing “Wilder Girls” by Rory Power. There are books set aside for book club members at the Herndon Fortnightly Library (768 Center St.). For this week’s meeting, participants can join either in the library conference room or on Zoom. Registration is required one day in advance.

Thursday (June 17)

  • Wolf Trap Salon Series (Online) — 7 p.m. — A series of online opera recitals curated by the artists in the show. The virtual performance gives “an intimate look into artistry…providing a unique glimpse into how they interpret art, songs and the world around them.”
  • Summer Live Music: Jeff Herbert — 5-7:30 p.m. at the Upper Promenade near Boro Park (8350 Broad St.) — This week’s live music series at The Boro features local artist Jeff Herbert. His music ranges from pop and rock to celtic and folk. He’s been performing for over 30 years. RSVP to receive more information.
  • Concerts in the Park — 7-9 p.m. at Cherry Hill Park (312 Park Ave.) — The Little City’s Concerts in the Park return for an 28th year after being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the Falls Church Concert Band will perform. Guests are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets, and a picnic dinner to enjoy with the music. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be held inside the Falls Church Community Center at 223 Little Falls Street.

Friday (June 18)

  • The Anonymous Lover in Concert — 8 p.m. at the Filene Center (1551 Trap Rd.) — Live music returns to Wolf Trap National Park with a 90-minute rendition of “The Anonymous Lover” from Wolf Trap Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra. There is a pre-show lecture for those interested in learning more about the show. Tickets start at $32, and gates will open at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday (June 19)

  • Juneteenth Celebration — 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Vienna (450 Orchard St. NW) — The Town of Vienna will kick off its Liberty Amendments Month festivities with an opening ceremony that will feature live music, a book giveaway, vendors, and a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the town’s Facebook and YouTube pages, and it is part of a series of activities planned throughout the week to commemorate the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery.

Sunday (June 20)

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (June 1)

  • McLean Community Center LGBTQ+ Pride Month Exhibition — at the McLean Community Center Plaza (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — The McLean Community Center will display a Progress Pride flag and a rainbow light display throughout the month to show support for the LGBTQ+ community. Take photos with the exhibit and post them using the hashtag #McLeanCenterPRIDE.
  • Duck Harbor (Online) — 8-10 p.m. — A heartwarming web series about a bi-coastal love story written by E.M. Lewis and Bob Bartlett, this online, live theatrical performance from 1st Stage will air for free every Tuesday at 8 p.m. for 12 weeks. All aired episodes and bonus content will also be available through Duck Harbor ALL ACCESS for $15.

Wednesday (June 2)

  • Wine Down Wednesday — 4-9 p.m. at Tysons Social Tavern (1960 Chain Bridge Rd.) — Tysons Social Tavern kicks off its Wine Down Wednesdays series this month. Each week brings live music and special prices on wines and appetizers. Specials are available for dine-in only with no substitutions.

Thursday (June 3)

  • Local Poet Talk: Sandra Beasley (Online) — 7-8 p.m. — Local author Sandra Beasley, a Vienna native and current DC resident, will talk about her new book, “Made to Explode.” Registration is required to receive the Zoom link.
  • Live Music at The Boro — 5:30-8 p.m. at The Boro (8350 Broad St.) — The Boro will host a free outdoor music series every Thursday night this summer . This first event will feature the David Thong Band. RSVP on Eventbrite for updates.

Friday (June 4)

  • LGBTQ+ Pride Month Teen Open Mic — 7 p.m. at MCC Plaza (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — The McLean Community Center is hosting an open mic for LGBTQ+ teens, allies, and families. Sign-ups begin at 7 p.m., and the open mic starts at 7:30 p.m. Performances should be kept between four and six minutes. If there are specific performance or access needs, contact Jeff Virchow at [email protected]. Refreshments and dance music will be available.
  • Old Firehouse Luau Party — 4-7 p.m. at Old Firehouse Center (1440 Chain Bridge Rd.) — The Old Firehouse is combining its After 7 Dance Party with the 5th/6th Grader Luau Party. It will be a socially distanced start to summer with food, drinks, giveaways, prizes, and a DJ. Reservations are required, and tickets cost $10 for MCC District residents or $15 for non-district residents.

Saturday (June 5)

  • Puppuccinos and Pawpurrazzi — 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Boro Park (8350 Broad St.) — Enjoy a cup of Allegro Coffee and a Curiosity Doughnut while your dog chows down on a treat while getting their caricature done. Post a picture of your pup on social media with the hashtag #TheBoroTysons for a chance to win two ShowPlace ICON Theatre tickets. Register for doggie playdate passes and caricature sessions.

Sunday (June 6)

Photo via David Thong Music/Facebook

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Juneteenth Rally in Vienna — “A rally will take place outside the First Baptist Church of Vienna Friday evening on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.” [Tysons Reporter]

ICYMI — Government offices in Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church are closed today due to Juneteenth. [Tysons Reporter]

List of LGBTQ+ Books — Fairfax County’s public libraries have a variety of LGBTQ+ books for tweens available in the digital collection. [Fairfax County]

Library Parking Plans Move Forward — “Vienna Town Council members on June 15 approved an agreement with the Fairfax County government for the design and construction of a parking structure at the soon-to-be-renovated Patrick Henry Library.” [Inside NoVa]

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For roughly 500 kids in Northern Virginia, the annual Pride Prom hosted by Tysons-based NoVA Pride was a time where they could have fun and connect with their peers.

Though COVID-19 has put a damper on in-person Pride celebrations this year — and led to Pride Prom’s postponement twice — NoVa Pride is still working to support members of the LGBTQ+ youth community. Pride month is meant as an inclusive, celebratory event commemorating Stonewall.

Amy, the director of youth outreach for the group, said they decided to set up virtual activities where participants can connect with their friends.

These kids need extra support in the age of COVID-19 since LGBTQ+ youth may not have as much support at home, according to Amy, who added that a lack of peer support and contact could put them at risk.

“Many kids rely on schools for affirmation and validation,” Amy said. “They’re the ones who are experiencing more social isolation.”

The digital events, which Amy said are held every other week, include Netflix parties, Q&As with student leadership and an Instagram chat option.

Anyone who wishes to get involved with these events can check out NoVA Pride’s website and social media.

For the next meeting, NoVA Pride will be teaching a DIY drag tutorial, according to Amy.

Though many of NoVA Pride’s events are aimed at kids in ninth-12th grade, the organization also works with adults, serving as a resource to help connect new community members with LGBTQ-friendly churches and groups.

“From what we’ve seen, adults aren’t really looking for anything online,” Amy said.

Regarding the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the country, Amy said she wants people to remember that Pride festivities were inspired by the Stonewall Riots, which were sparked by transgender women of color and other members of the LBGTQ+ community in response to police raids.

NoVA Pride’s mission is “to cultivate and grow a coalition to educate, advocate and celebrate in service to the [LGBTQ+] community of Northern Virginia and our straight Allies.”

“Nothing we have done has changed, we are a very diverse and inclusive organization in general,” Amy said. “The same youth leaders who are serving as Pride Prom leaders are the ones in their communities advocating for racial justice and racial equity.”

For anyone struggling with their identity, depression or social norms, the Trevor Project aims to prevent suicide and self-harm in LBGTQ+ youth across the country, according to its website. Though it has no official affiliation with NoVA Pride, Amy said it is a wonderful resource.

Currently, Pride Prom is scheduled to be held in August but Amy said it is unclear if they will be forced to cancel with how quickly things seem to be changing with COVID-19.

Photo via Allie on Unsplash

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