Va. school board halts public comment on controversial transgender policy; 2 arrested

A sign outside a classroom taken in 2016.
A sign outside a classroom taken in 2016. | REUTERS/Tami Chappell

A Virginia public school board meeting on Tuesday resulted in two arrests and silenced public comments after a heated discussion erupted regarding new transgender policies, which one conservative activist called “psychological child abuse” and “a total fraud.”

The new policy for Loudon County Public Schools in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., includes privacy and restroom accommodations for trans-identified students and would require teachers to use students’ pronouns or name preferences. 

About 259 people reportedly signed up for public comments, but only 51 voices were heard since the public comment session was halted after chaos ensued, Fox News reports

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The proposed policy, known as Policy 8040, is not expected to be officially voted on by the school board until Aug.10 at the earliest. 

Many parents fear implementing the policy in public schools will violate parents’ rights and lead to left-wing indoctrination.

A draft of the policy explains: “LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record.”

“Inadvertent slips in the use of names or pronouns may occur; however, staff or students who intentionally and persistently refuse to respect a student’s gender identity by using the wrong name and gender pronoun are in violation of this policy,” the policy states. 

Tensions arose in the crowded school board meeting when one speaker, the mother of a trans-identified student, said that “hate” was “dripping from the followers of Jesus in this room." The comment was directed toward the Christian parents who disagreed with transgender discussions in public school, according to Fox News.

After calling a short recess, the board unanimously voted to allow no more public comments if the room got out of control again. The board later voted 9-0 to end public comment in the meeting altogether when they were criticized by former Republican state Sen. Dick Black for the board's treatment of an elementary school physical education teacher placed on leave after speaking out about the policy in an earlier meeting. 

Byron Tanner Cross of Leesburg Elementary School was recently put on administrative leave after expressing opposition to the proposed policy. Cross said that as a Christian, he cannot “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.” The school district is appealing a judge's order to reinstate Cross temporarily. Multiple parents at the meeting urged the school board to drop its appeal of the court's decision. 

At least two parents protesting critical race theory and the transgender policy were arrested after the meeting was declared an “unlawful assembly.” 

The arrests occurred after the parents remained in the room to deliver their remarks. According to Fox News, one parent refused to leave until everyone was given the opportunity to speak. Deputies alleged he was arrested for trespassing. 

One man was issued a trespassing summons and released and the second was accused of "acting disorderly," "aggressive behavior towards another attendee" and resisting arrest, the Loudon County Sheriff's Office disclosed. 

Cathy Ruse, a Northern Virginia lawyer who earned a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University and formerly served as a senior fellow at the conservative Christian advocacy group Family Research Council, delivered remarks at a rally before the school board meeting.

She condemned the “anti-science proposition” and “fake science propaganda” of transgenderism.  

“The Loudoun County School Board is about to force all families in Loudoun County Public Schools to embrace the radical, anti-science proposition that biological sex is meaningless,” Ruse said in prepared remarks obtained by The Christian Post.

“It is an ideology that teaches children they can be born in the wrong body," she added. "That’s psychological child abuse, according to the American College of Pediatricians. And of course it’s a lie. The truth is: Every child is born in exactly the right body.”

Ruse argued that most children “grow out” of gender dysphoria.

She said the school board’s proposal “demands that all members of a school community lie to a confused child and tell him he is, indeed, in the wrong body.”

“Transgender activists want to turn our classrooms into laboratories,” Ruse said. “And this School Board is complicit. Public schools should never be a place to experiment on other people’s children.”

Ruse stressed how imposing the policy on the school district would be a “total fraud.” 

“[The policy] calls itself ‘progressive,’ but acts like a retrogressive tyrant, especially when it comes to the freedom of speech,” she argued. 

“And worst of all, it preaches ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance,’ and then tells kids to reject their own bodies, even to the point of mutilation," she continued. "This ideology has no place in our public schools.”

Evangelical leader and Samaritans Purse President Franklin Graham called on Christians in Loudon County to “stand strong” and “speak the truth in love,” saying school boards’ decisions have implications on the nation’s future.

“In 2016 I went to all 50 states holding prayer rallies for our nation and I urged Christians to run for office in their cities and communities — specifically for school boards — and this is exactly the reason why!” Graham, son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham, shared in a Facebook post Wednesday. 

“School boards are making decisions about what is being taught in our schools and the policies that will be followed,” Graham added. “These impact our children and our grandchildren’s lives, and they impact the future of our country, so it is vitally important.”

“I'm thankful for the parents in Loudoun County, Virginia, who are speaking up and working to keep things like critical race theory and concerning transgender policies out of their schools,” Graham continued. “We have to stand up against the godless socialist agenda trying to divide us and take over this country.”

Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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