LCPS_SealThe Loudoun County School Board is proposing to remove all classifications from its non-discrimination and anti-bullying policies.

At their November 29 meeting (watch the discussion here), several School Board members expressed the belief that employees and students shouldn’t be “labeled” by having legal protection from discrimination on the basis of personal characteristics such as gender or sexual orientation. They then voted to consult the LCPS attorney to determine whether all classifications can be eliminated from the current policies: race, ancestry, color, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, marital status, age, religion, national origin, disability, or genetic information and any other characteristic provided by law.

Members who suggest that protecting classes of people who have historically been subject to discrimination and bullying amounts to “labeling” them have a fundamental misunderstanding of how discrimination works. It is the act of discrimination or bullying itself that labels the person being targeted, and in the absence of policy language prohibiting such conduct there is no basis for that person to make a claim of discrimination.

Several members also stated that the School Board cannot add “sexual orientation or gender identity” to its policy language because that language is not included in the Virginia state code. This claim is false. The Attorney General determined years ago that public education governing bodies are free to determine their own policies with regard to discrimination, and LCPS is lagging behind surrounding school districts and also the Loudoun County government, which added this language in 2010.

The national PTA has adopted a resolution, and provided a detailed explanation of why the recognition of gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes is necessary. That document is available here. Discrimination and bullying directed against members of the LGBTQI community, and the harm it causes, is well documented. The NAACP Loudoun Branch strongly supports including this language in LCPS policies.

Efforts to avoid revising non-discrimination and anti-bullying policies to protect LGBTQI employees and students by removing reference to all protected classes from these policies is UNACCEPTABLE and must be met with uncompromising opposition.

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