A Fairfax County, Virginia, school board member is taking heat for a weekend Twitter post linking to an article claiming transgender men are struggling with mental illness.
Elizabeth Schultz got a standing ovation in May when she was the lone "no" vote as the Fairfax County School Board added gender identity to its non-discrimination policy.
Saturday she was scolded on Twitter when she tweeted a link to TheBlaze.com focusing on an Illinois school district's struggle to accommodate a transgender student. The writer included this statement: “Moreover, ‘transgenders’ are men who struggle with mental illness and sexual perversion."
Schultz's critics jumped.
“I'm not supporting any statements when I make a link in a Twitter feed,” Schultz said.
She told News4 she didn’t read the whole article but wanted to spotlight the part about a potential threat she sees to Fairfax County -- that federal authorities might force accommodations for transgender students that go beyond what the parent might find acceptable.
“You basically have the federal government setting education policy in individual school systems around the country under the threat of pulling federal monies,” she said.
FCPS Pride formed just after the anti-discrimination policy was changed in May. Spokesman and West Potomac High School teacher Robert Rigby said he's heard from several dozen parents already shocked by the Twitter link by a school board member.
“I thought, How in the world are my kids going to take this?” he said. “I thought, What are the students in my gay-straight alliance going to think when they see this from a public servant, from one of their school board members?”
Rigby wants a meeting with Schultz and an apology.
“I’d be happy to organize meetings with transgender students and Mrs. Schultz so we can let her see how great our students are,” he said.
Both Rigby and Schultz want to know what's holding up a consultant's report that will help guide regulations for accommodating transgender students.
“I am impatient also,” Rigby said. “I'm going in a few weeks to say, ‘We're waiting for this.’”
The consultant has been reviewing policies with FCPS staff, a schools spokesman said.
Many pending state and federal cases also could affect regulations.