FAIRFAX COUNTY, Virginia – An influential U.S. school district is shutting down the ability of parents to give feedback on controversial policies such as its gender identity policy, concerned parents are saying.
The Fairfax County School Board (FCSB), serving one of the busiest suburbs of Washington D.C., is in the process of introducing new restrictions for parents making comments during board meetings.
Among the restrictions parents have expressed concern about are rules that commenters may only speak about what the board allows on its agenda, banning anyone from speaking except the few who have previously signed up, and disallowing commenters from sharing speaking time.
Ever since the FCSB ushered in a transgender policy allowing boys in the girls’ toilets, changing rooms, and showers in 2015, over 100 parents have barraged board meetings with criticism of the policy. Comments include not only concern about the policy itself, but that it was enacted quickly without public debate instead of lengthy, transparent consideration.
A massive parental backlash has prompted the board’s proposed rule changes.
One concerned parent called the rule change a dangerous “ploy to censor opposing speech.”
The board’s existing rules already limit parental input, allowing just ten parents to briefly speak, and only those who sign up online early. “Ten parents have just three minutes each to give their views,” Fairfax mom and former White House staffer Bethany Kozma complained to the Daily Signal.
“The Fairfax County School Board does not seem interested in listening to constituents who do not share their political views,” Kozma surmised. “Rather than shutting down citizens who would defend the privacy of their children, the Fairfax County School Board should make good on its commitment to openness, respect, and the democratic process,” she opined.
This concern has been echoed by the critical comments from parents who were allowed to speak at board meetings going back to 2015.
Alan Telecki complained that some board members seek to censor parent opinion.
Stamatios Stamoulas said some students are not going to the restroom because opposite-sex transgenders are there. He also disagreed with presenting sex ed and transgenderism to the very young, without adequate opt-out provision.
John Murray said half of the students skip some classes over “offensive, unhealthy, emotionally harmful, politically charged lesson(s)” that are “offensive to religious faiths.”
Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit last year had a side panel discussion on transgenderism in schools. The panel pointed out that since the presidential election the federal government has begun to oppose it. Panelists emphasized that administration appointments matter a great deal, because policy implementation is just as important as the policy itself.
“Gender identity mandates hurt all kids, not just those kids who may be gender dysphoric,” FRC’s Cathy Ruse explained. “These policies make them question their sense of safety, security, certainty and everything.”
A parental alert via email urged those concerned to contact FCSB Public Engagement Committee members Megan McLaughlin, Ryan McElveen, Dalia Palchik, and Karen Gamarra.