Unless you are very new to the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), you are undoubtedly aware of the turmoil that has been created by the 9-3 Democratic majority on the School Board, in their haste to implement radical new requirements for addressing a range of issues related to the rights of transgender students, the responsibilities of all students in respecting those rights, and the content of the Family Life Education curriculum (FLE).
I write today, at the very beginning of the new school year, to alert you to the school system’s new requirements and to tell you that, if you have concerns, you have options. You do not have to silently acquiesce.
But first, some background. The Fairfax County GOP has urged parents to question the School Board’s actions from the beginning, and our three School Board members, Jeannette Hough (At Large), Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield) and Tom Wilson (Sully) have repeatedly asked reasonable, thoughtful, questions about the goals and manner of implementation of the new policy. The Democrats have ignored those questions and proceeded to ram through their agenda with arrogance and disdain.
As has often been noted, the FCPS never does anything in a hurry – except for this one policy. The school system spent years studying whether to change school start times for high school students, but when it came to the transgender issue, there was no prior study, no real discussion, and no desire to let the community be heard. As recently as June of this year, the School Board abused its own procedures, attempting to hide what it was doing, even from some members of the Board. This is not democracy, it’s a sham.
The School Board’s proposed regulations are in limbo pending further legal guidance; nonetheless, the Board has voted to implement the policy, without the regulations. The packets your children have brought home or will soon be bringing home include the 2016-17 Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, which has been amended to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the existing nondiscrimination policy. Those terms are undefined, which in turn raises questions about what students’ rights and responsibilities actually are.
Fortunately, in recent months, a new group known as Concerned Parents and Educators of Fairfax County (CPEFC) has been hard at work on developing a strategy and materials for helping parents respond to the school system. I encourage you to visit the CPEFC website at ConcernedParentsAndEducators.org. In particular, please look at the “Parent Information Package,” which you can find at ConcernedParentsaAndEducators.org/PIP.
Even if you are inclined to think this issue is overblown, or simply isn’t of any concern at all, I encourage you to visit the CPEFC website and review the materials. In particular, the discussion in the information package of the practical implications of the new regulations, and the highlights of the Family Life Education curriculum, may raise new questions for you. This is not just about bathrooms, or about how a student might dress.
If you have any questions about CPEFC, or the Parent Information Package, please submit them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, the next School Board meeting will be at 7 pm on Thursday, September 8, at Luther Jackson Middle School. To voice your concerns, please attend. CPEFC will also hold a peaceful protest outside starting at 6pm.
Chairman, Fairfax County Republican Committee