The public comment period at Tuesday’s Loudoun County Public School (LCPS) Board meeting lasted about three hours after 121 people registered to speak. Several factors contributed to the high participation, according to LCPS citizen reporter Julie Sisson.
“It was insane,” Sisson said. “A combination of the first in-person audience in over a year, the fact that LCPS suspended Tanner Cross after the last one and the court ruling in his favor had come out earlier that day, last meeting of the school year, and the SB was supposed to discuss Policy 8040 (rights of transgender students) but they pushed it back to Committee.”
LCPS has become the focus of conservative activism over equity initiatives, fears of Critical Race Theory (CRT), and a draft policy for how the district will handle transgender students. In a previous public hearing, Cross said he would not use students’ preferred pronouns, leading to his suspension. Sisson said some people, mostly in favor, spoke about the transgender policy, but most of the comments were about Tanner Cross, constitutional rights, and equity initiatives.
LCPS River Bend Middle School 7th Grade Dean Melissa Dober said in the public comment period, “I am here to stand with Tanner Cross in defense of his first amendment rights. Like Tanner, when staff members are hired we do not surrender our rights under conditions of employment.”
She continued, “In the culturally responsive framework, equity training, and Policy 8040, it states we are to affirm students struggling with gender identity. This goes against my first amendment rights since it is against the truth of what I believe as a Christian and as a former science teacher. ”
LCPS parent Robin Scott said, “My pronouns are she/her. I’m here today as an LCPS parent and former student, not only in support of our School Board’s effort to improve equity but to speak directly to our community asking to stop turning equality into a weapon. We all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The adults bullying our children need to be reminded that if you don’t have anything kind to say, don’t say anything at all. Stop projecting your fear on our children.”
Sisson told The Star, “[There were] definitely more speakers in support of Cross and against CRT.”
She said one teacher gave each member of the school board a pocket copy of the Constitution.
“More and more teachers are stepping up to speak out because of how they see Cross being treated. I’d have thought it would scare them into silence, but it seems it’s having the opposite effect for many,” she said.
“The issue parents have with CRT is absolutely not that they don’t want the real and complete story of America to be told,” Sisson said. “We absolutely understand that it has been ‘whitewashed’ for too many generations. However, separating everyone into oppressors and victims, teaching white staff to hate themselves and feel guilty over things they had no part in, that’s what’s so objectionable.”
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