The Loudoun County School Board voted 7-2 to require teachers to use a student’s preferred pronouns; officials will also allow students to play on their preferred gender’s sports teams.
What We Know:
- Policy 8040 follows Virginia law, which asked districts to review the updated anti-harassment guidelines. Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) released a statement in which leaders said they want their institutions to prioritize all students’ successes. They also want to ensure students feel safe, secure, accepted, and eager to learn in class. In addition, the school division would continue doing its part in creating an open and transparent environment with LCPS partners, community members, and stakeholders.
- However, some did not want to pass the policy. School Board member Jeff Morse spoke out against the guidelines. He believed Loudoun County schools did not need Policy 8040; in addition, it would not solve the issues it wants to. Morse also claimed the policy forced members’ focus out of education and, thus, could not support it.
“From years past… our teachers, administrators, and counselors are well trained to identify issues and provide emotional support to students,” said Morse.
- In response, Ian Serotkin, another School Board member, encouraged Morse to hold more conversations with gay and transgender students. Serotkin claimed Morse implied that bullying against members of the LGBTQ+ community no longer occurs in Loudoun County. Therefore, he believed Morse needed to hear more perspectives from students in that community.
- Supporters of Policy 8040 began celebrating after the board posted its decision on Aug. 11. Equality, Loudoun President Chris Candice Tuck thinks that implementing the new policy in schools this year will allow LGBTQ+ students to learn at their fullest potential.
- The Loudoun County School Board’s acceptance of this policy comes months after physical education teacher Tanner Cross denounced it. He told the board he would not affirm preferred pronouns because it went against his religion. A debate on free speech and identity began quickly after the Board suspended him for his comments on the policy.
- The board first publicly considered Policy 8040 in June. Like the Aug. 10 meeting, hundreds attended the meeting.
Policy 8040 additionally permits transgender students to access school facilities that correspond to their “consistently asserted gender identity.”