Va. School Board Meeting Devolves into Arrests of Gender Policy Protestors (Getty Images)
By Charles Kim | Wednesday, 23 June 2021 05:24 PM
Two people protesting critical race theory policies were taken out of a Loudoun County Virginia school board meeting in handcuffs Tuesday night after Board of Education members voted to cut off public comment and walked out.
More than 200 advocates and protestors over a “gender expansive” policy that would allow students to choose their names and pronouns based on their gender identities passionately made their cases during the public comment section of the meeting.
When the audience became animated, cheering the comments of a retired state legislator in opposition of the policy, and other issues regarding the board handling speech during meetings, the board unanimously voted to end public comments, and then recessed into another room, leaving the audience upset.
“Following the Loudoun County School Board’s vote to end public comment Tuesday night, an altercation occurred in the board room in which one individual physically threatened another attendee,” Loudoun County Sheriff’s Public Information Office said in a statement Wednesday. “A deputy intervened, and the subject continued to be disorderly with the deputy. Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Deputies attempted to take him into custody, and he physically resisted. The subject (age 48) was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He was released by a Loudoun County Magistrate on a Personal Recognizance Bond.”
“Following this, the Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools declared the meeting an unlawful assembly, directed attendees to leave, and advised those who remained would be subject to being charged with trespassing,” the statement continued. “One adult male (age 57) refused to leave and was detained by LCSO Deputies. He was escorted outside and released on a summons for trespassing by order of Loudoun County Public School Officials.”
Board Chairman Brenda Sheridan issued a statement Wednesday about the meeting.
“I’m deeply concerned about the rise in hateful messages and violent threats aimed at progressive members of the school board. We recently saw KKK flyers in Fairfax, our own school board members are receiving graphic threats via email and voice mail, and parents who support our work are afraid to speak up,” her statement said. I support differing opinions and spirited debates. I want us all to have productive discussions about making our schools the best they can be. That is why I ran for the school board in the first place. But opponents of the school board who are pushing false stories about “critical race theory” have severely hurt our ability to do the jobs we were elected to do. Tonight, the Loudoun County School Board meeting was interrupted by those who wish to use the public comment period to disrupt our work and disrespect each other. Dog-whistle politics will not delay our work. We will not back down from fighting for the rights of our students and continuing our focus on equity.”
The district was propelled into the national spotlight after it suspended Leesburg Elementary School physical education teacher Byron Tanner Cross after he spoke out during a board meeting, criticizing the district for considering policies that align with state legislation that “model” policies developed by the [Virginia] Department of Education.
A draft of one of the proposed policies the Loudoun County board is considering, 8040, would 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.”
The policy is currently in front of the board’s Pupil Services Committee and has not yet come in front of the full board for a vote.
The district said it will appeal a June 8 Circuit Court judge’s decision to reinstate Cross and has denied teaching critical race theory to students.
The district reports being the third largest in the state with an enrollment of 81,504 students across 95 schools, including 59 elementary schools, and an operating budget of just over $1 billion.