Fairfax Co. Schools Includes Gender Identity in Nondiscrimination Policy

The Fairfax County School Board voted Thursday to change its nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity.

That policy already included age, race, national origin, disability and religion. In November, the board added protections based on sexual orientation.

While the boad voted overwhelmingly in favor of the change, the crowd at the meeting was largely opposed to it.

"The decision by the school board to add 'gender identity' to our nondiscrimination policy is to provide an environment which promotes equality where every student and employee is treated with dignity and respect," read a statement from School Board Chair Tamara Derenak Kaufax. "This tells our students and staff that school and the FCPS workplace are places where they can be safe from harassment and discrimination."

Attorney General Mark Herring said in March school boards have the authority to include gender identity in nondiscrimination policies

Supporters said the change would be a powerful statement of acceptance from the school district.

Some opponents voiced concerns that a policy change could lead to mixed-sex bathrooms.

The school district will hire a consultant to help plan policies, including bathroom use and locker rooms.

Several other Virginia school districts have recently had to decide what to do about transgender students. In Stafford County, an elementary school permitted a transgender fourth-grader to use the bathroom of the gender with which the child identified, until some parents complained.

In March, the Stafford County school board responded by approving a superintendent's directive giving that student two choices: The bathroom that matched the student's sex assigned at birth or an adult restroom in the school.

Now a group called "Save our Schools" is urging the Stafford school board to formally bar any mixed-sex restrooms.

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