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School board meeting devolves into chaos as religious right protests policy on transgender students

Religious right activists turned out to storm a school board meeting to protest calling students by their name and demand pupils not be taught something that isn't offered in the district.
Religious right activists turned out to storm a school board meeting to protest calling students by their name and demand pupils not be taught something that isn't offered in the district.Photo: Screenshot

A school board meeting in Loudon County, Virginia devolved into chaos after religious right protestors screamed at board members to protest a policy that required staff to address transgender students by their names. One man was arrested and another cited for trespassing after the meeting was declared an unlawful gathering.

The group also demanded that the school ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools. The course isn’t taught in elementary schools since it’s a law school course examining the effect of race on legal policies and administration.

Related: A mob tried to harass a school board member over LGBTQ rights. So her neighbors responded.

Many of the speakers were at the meeting to voice support for the draft policy that would require teachers to address students by the proper pronouns and names and align the district’s policies on bathroom facilities with state and federal law. A large chunk of protestors, however, turned the show of support into bedlam.

After reminding the crowd repeatedly that school board policy requires members of the public who wish to speak to “refrain from vulgarity, obscenities, profanity or other . . . breaches of respect for the dignity of the school board,” the Loudoun County Public Schools board cut the meeting short.

The public was ordered to leave, but several refused, shouting into the microphone to a room where only other protestors, police, and journalists remained. One man was cited for trespassing.

A separate man turned hostile and became aggressive toward a man who supported the policy protecting transgender children. After being warned by an officer repeatedly to stop and a brief struggle, he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

School board chair Brenda Sheridan gave a short speech after the meeting resumed, saying she couldn’t allow the “disruption that occurred in our board room tonight go unaddressed.”

“I’m deeply concerned about the rise in hateful messages and violent threats aimed at progressive members of the school board,” she said. “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.”

She said board members had received death threats from conservative activists.

Noting that June is Pride Month, Sheridan said the calculated attempt by the religious right to turn the district into “a political battleground” will fail.

“These politically motivated antics ought to end,” she said. “But if they don’t, know that they won’t delay our work.”

 

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