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A Christian group is organizing protests against trans students all over Virginia

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 far-right Christian group is organizing protests in Virginia to protest new policies put in place throughout the state that will allow transgender students to attend school as their authentic selves.

The latest protest was in Wise County, where around 100 people showed up to the rally organized by Stand Up Virginia’s Jony Baker, who is an employee in a nearby county’s sheriff’s office.

Related: Angry parents disrupt school board meetings across Virginia to protest trans students’ rights

She said that her daughter attends public schools and that the pro-trans rules will take God out of the school system.

“I don’t want her going to any school and have her mind corrupted,” Baker told the people who attended. “We love our guns. We love our God, we love our Constitution, we love those kids.”

“We can’t discriminate against my little girl and say we’re providing more freedoms for somebody else.”

The new rules are a result of a bill passed last year that told the Virginia Department of Education to come up with model language for school districts to implement. The rules cover topics like teachers using students’ correct names and pronouns, gendered dress codes getting applied based on students’ actual genders, and record-keeping issues, as well as bathroom and locker room usage and school sports.

But the protestors in Wise County weren’t concerned so much about how schools can better educate all young people as they were with religion.

“Homosexuality is a special kind of sin,” Huey Ellis, who has children and nephews in the district, told the Times-News. He called the trans policies “an outright abomination.”

“If I have to, I will take my children out of school and teach them myself.”

“Those ungodly people are making those ungodly decisions,” pastor Roger Barker said, calling on churches to protest the school board. “We have to be forceful.”

Baker, the Stand Up Virginia organizer, acknowledged that the school board was required by the state to pass the rules, but she said that they should have rejected them to send them “back to the General Assembly, let the legislators fight it out,” implying that not following a law would require the legislature to reconsider the law.

Protests have occurred in counties all over the state about the transgender equality policy, and Stand Up Virginia took credit for the protests in Loudoun County that resulted in chaos and ended in arrests.

One man at that protest 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.

Another man faces a trespassing charge in connection with his alleged behavior at the meeting, which had to be cut short as it descended into chaos, even after officials warned protestors to “refrain from vulgarity, obscenities, profanity or other… breaches of respect for the dignity of the school board.”

Stand Up Virginia President Brenda Tillett posted a video to social media bragging about the chaos at the meeting, which she said was meant “to increase awareness about efforts to dismantle safety in our communities and country.”

“We were at [the meeting] in droves, in full force,” Tillett said, adding, “Stand Up Virginia joined with several other organizations, we put the word out, and we were able to pack the entire Loudoun County school board room with supporters of our values that we represent for our families in Virginia.”

In the video, she said that protestors were “standing up for the young, teenage girl who is a biological female who is going to be competing in sports against a biological male.”

“And she is going to lose!” Tillett said.

Protests have been held in counties across Virginia as the state government is proactively forcing school districts that probably would not have otherwise adopted any policy to better welcome trans students to do so.

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