Citing her identity as “a believer in Christ,” a teacher in Virginia quit in a tearful speech in front of the school board because her district was going to require her to use trans students’ correct names and pronouns.
“School board, I quit,” Laura Morris said, sobbing and complaining that her “dissenting opinion is not allowed” in the district anymore. “I quit. I quit your policies. I quit your trainings and I quit being a cog in a machine that tells me to push highly politicized agendas on our most vulnerable constituents – the children.”
Despite her pleas about children, Morris was speaking against a policy adopted by the Loudoun County School Board last night to make school more welcoming to trans students, who have a high school drop out rate in part due to discrimination and bullying they face in schools.
The district’s new policy for next year is happening because the state passed a law requiring the Virginia Department of Education to develop model language for policies on trans students, which school districts have to adopt them in order to keep state funds. The policies address record-keeping, names and pronouns, use of gender-segregated facilities, and other topics that affect how trans students are treated at school.
Morris called all this “political ideologies that do not square with who I am,” referring to her religious beliefs on how to treat transgender people as well as her reluctance to recognize that white privilege exists.
“I was told, in one of my so-called equity trainings, that white, Christian, able-bodied females currently have the power in our school and that, quote, ‘This has to change,'” she said. “You’ve made your point: you no longer value me.”
“I thought it necessary to resign in front of you,” she said as she started crying.
Lots of impassioned arguments tonight from both sides.
One of the most striking moments was this…
— Jess Arnold (@JessArnoldTV) August 11, 2021
After hours of debate, the Loudoun County School Board voted 7-2 in favor of the transgender equality policy, despite protestors outside.
“This means that they have a chance to go back to school, feel safe, feel accepted and feel affirmed,” parent Cris Candice Tuck told WUSA9, referring to their kids in the school. “They no longer have to worry about the bullying and the harassment. They don’t have to fight with staff about which restroom to use… they can just be an average normal student without all of this hanging over their head.”
Loudoun County is one of several that was targeted by the conservative Christian organization Stand Up Virginia for protests this year as school boards all across the state clamored to pass policies in compliance with state law. The protestors showed up in droves to a school board meeting this past June, which descended into chaos.
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.”
For the meetings this week, the Loudoun County School Board limited the number of people who could enter the room, which Morris cited as an example of keeping “dissenting opinion” out.
The original policy only required school counselors to undergo LGBTQ diversity training, but an amendment presented last night expanded that to include all faculty as well.