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LETTER TO EDITOR: ‘School Board Chairman Seeks to Disenfranchise Brentsville Residents’

| September 14, 2016 | 0 Comments | Education
Prince William School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers speaks at the Sept. 7, 2016 meeting.

Prince William School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers speaks at the board’s Sept. 7, 2016 meeting.

Opinion piece by resident Bridget McCardell 

Since this new Prince William County School Board was sworn in, it has gone from one controversy to another. As our children return to school, this controversial trend has only continued. But this latest episode aims to disenfranchise residents of the Brentsville Magisterial District, and it needs to be reversed.

September 7, the Prince William School Board began debate on whether the school system’s non-discrimination policy should include “gender identity” in the group of protected classes. Making this change could allow transgender students and staff to choose the bathroom, locker room, showers and athletic team participation of their preferred choice, regardless of their biological anatomy.

This column is not about the gender identity non-discrimination policy proposal, although I do think the proposal implementation violates basic privacy for children. However, this column is about the fact that school board chairman Ryan Sawyers has scheduled a vote on this policy change for the next school board meeting on September 21, while the Brentsville school board position remains vacant.

For someone who advocates equality, it’s ironically hypocritical that Mr. Sawyers would do something that makes our magisterial district unequal with the rest of the county.

In June, our Brentsville representative, and U.S. Navy Reservist, Gil Trenum, was called to active duty for one year to serve overseas as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. As a Brentsville resident, I am proud of his service to our district and to our nation. Trenum has provided recommendations for who can serve in his place during his deployment: Christopher Park or Shawn L. Brann.

The school board should do the right thing by appointing one of Trenum’s preferred candidates at the September 21 school board meeting. Not honoring the wishes of Gil Trenum would be a major slap in the face for veterans and military reservists across our county, state and nation. And not honoring Trenum’s wishes would only discourage reservists from seeking public office in Prince William County in the future.

But just as discouraging is the fact that Chairman Sawyers has scheduled a vote on the gender identity non-discrimination policy change before a new Brentsville replacement is seated. If a new Brentsville representative is voted on at the September 21 meeting, that representative won’t be seated to actually vote and represent our district until the first October meeting. Therefore, Brentsville would have no representation at the September 21 meeting.

This “gender identity” policy change is significant and has far-reaching implications. There is a way to both protect transgender students, protect basic privacy for all children and avoid expensive lawsuits, but the current proposal misses the mark. More deliberation and debate is needed for a major policy change like this, yet, our current school board is rushing this process.

A temporary replacement for Mr. Trenum has not been appointed, therefore, Chairman Sawyers should delay any major vote until a representative for Brentsville is seated. Allowing a vote on a major school board decision while the Brentsville position is vacant would disenfranchise Brentsville residents, and rob us of our voices. We plead with the school board to reverse this injustice and to wait until Brentsville is given a voice via a seat at the table.

This is an opinion piece representing the opinion of its author. As with all Letters to the Editor, Bristow Beat, its staff and sponsors do not necessarily agree with author’s opinions. 

© 2016, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Education

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