A Virginia school board this week defied a new state requirement and voted down a proposal that would have forced schools to allow students to use the restroom and locker room they wish.
“When the law violates the Constitution, then it's a bad law,” said School Board Chairman Douglas Brown. “... This law violates the Constitution.”
The proposal, he added, infringes on the “rights of parents.”
The new LGBT-centric law, passed by the legislature in 2020, requires that all public school districts adopt a policy permitting students who identify as transgender to use the restroom and locker room that matches their gender identity. Such a policy, for example, would allow a student who is biologically male to use a girl’s restroom if the student identifies as female.
Under the new law, school districts also must adopt a policy mandating that staff and students use the preferred pronoun and names of students who identify as transgender. Such pronouns, according to the Virginia Department of Education, could be gender-neutral: “they/them/their and ze/hir/hirs,” according to the state’s model policy.
The model policy defines gender identity as an “innate characteristic that most children declare by age five to six.” It also calls gender a “spectrum.”
Brown asserted that the state law and state proposal conflict with parental rights. The school board, he said, already has a policy that says the school “views parents as being the primary educators of their children when it comes to their gender, their sexual orientation and their sexual identity.”
“What we would be doing if we adopted this policy is we would have to throw that other policy out as well, because those two things … are in conflict with one another,” Brown said.
Brown, a Christian, said the proposal “imposes a set of beliefs on everyone.”
Referencing the policy’s definition of gender as a “spectrum,” Brown said, “I am understanding and empathetic with everyone and always respect other people's beliefs. ... [But] as a religious person, I don't believe that, and then therefore I don't want that imposed upon me and my family, and other children to have to believe that.”
Brown, who is African American, said it’s wrong to call everyone who disagrees with LGBT ideology a “bigot.”
“I have a different belief, and respect your right to have a different belief as well,” he said.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.