Democratic Leaders Support Addition to Prince William Schools’ Non-Discrimination Policy

| June 18, 2017 | 0 Comments | Education

Virginia State Senator Jeremy McPike (D-29th)

Friday, Democratic elected leaders from Prince William County sent a letter to the school board, throwing their weight behind the revision of Prince William County’s Non-Discrimination policy [Policy 060].

The letter supports a change that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the school division’s non-discrimination policy.  The change will be voted upon at the board’s June 21 meeting.

It was signed by five Democratic members of the Virginia General Assembly: Sen. Jeremy McPike (29th), Sen. George Barker (39th), Sen. Scott Surovell (36th), Del. Luke Torian (52nd ) and Del. John Bell (87th),

PWCS Non-Discrimination Policy Joint Letter

The proposed amendment directs the superintendent not to change the division’s policy regarding transgender bathroom or locker room use, a controversial issue in the county. Instead, it directs the superintendent to have it remain a site-based management decision.

In the letter, the authors explain the amendment is about the wellbeing of students and not bathroom use.

As the second largest school division in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we must consider the wellbeing of all students and staff. This is not about any one set of religious or cultural practices over another. This is not about bathrooms. This is simply about the wellbeing and safety of all students and staff.

Thursday, in a email correspondence, McPike explained the importance of protecting LGBTQ youth since they are more likely to experience harassment and attempt suicide than their straight, non LGBTQ peers.

“Statistics show that LGBTQ youth are more likely to experience bullying, harassment, and physical violence than their peers. Suicide rates among LGBTQ youth are staggering. We need a non-discrimination policy that protects these vulnerable students from bullying and harassment.”

McPike said the policy is in keeping with the kinds of progressive changes that he has advocated for in the Virginia Senate on behalf of workers and residents in the Commonwealth.

“This year, I supported bills in the State Senate (SB782 and SB822) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identify in the workplace and in housing. I continue to support non-discrimination in Prince William County Schools.

The policy change is also in line with the direction that Virginia is heading, said the senator, noting that both Democratic ad Republican governors have adopted non-discrimination policies for state employees, and many more school districts have done the same.

Support of the Democratic party was not a given. There was little support for the revision at the last board meeting. Instead, nearly 30 citizens spoke against the amendment and more attended the meeting to express their concerns.

While most citizen speakers addressed the bathroom issue, others said it was a solution to a problem that does not exist. Some added that it was a way for Democrats to score political points for future campaigns, especially Chairman Ryan Sawyers, who is running for Congress to represent the 1st District.

However other Democrats, such as Danica Roem, Democratic Candidate for Delegate from the 13th District,  expressed confidence that there would be a large showing of support at the June 21 meeting.

Many Democrats are now rallying around the revision, and expect to see a large turnout on Wednesday.

Nonetheless, Republicans, such as school board member Willie Deutsch (Coles) stand firm against the revision. Deutsch says the amendment could create future problems and “head-aches” for the school division in the future as is the case in Fairfax County where a similar amendment was adopted.

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