Defending the family

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Virginia Elected Official Rebuts Transgender Sabotoge

Board Matters:
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Elizabeth L. Schultz, Fairfax County School Board
Springfield District

On the heels of the yesterday's federal reissuance of the Dear Colleague Letter from the current Administration regarding treatment of "gender-identity", I want to read an excerpt from my comments on May 7, 2015:

"This past Sunday, I watched a story about the rise of a young woman who started as an intern to become the first woman to run a U.S. automobile manufacturer - General Motors. As a mother of two children about the age of two of my own children, I was struck by Mary Teresa Barra's role as a leader in a massive organization.

With a $2.6 Billion budget and as the largest employer in the Commonwealth, FCPS pales in comparison to General Motors with 212,000 plus employees in 396 facilities touching six continents.

In being charged with improving - some would say even saving GM - her pragmatic approach in, for example, sometimes ending meetings at 5:30 to make her children's' games left an impression. But the most significant take-away was her strategic leadership in taking a TEN PAGE dress code for their employees down to TWO WORDS: "DRESS APPROPRIATELY."

When faced with the notion that - if a child doesn't fit into one of the named particular classes under our Non-Discrimination - that we are or will discriminate AGAINST them means we are AFFIRMATIVELY participating in discrimination for many of our children. This is preposterous.

Earlier in our term, one of my colleagues championed a legislative package advocating the Virginia General Assembly press Congress for an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I didn't support that - it's not the business of the Board.

Similarly, in November, one of my colleagues championed another Policy 1450 change to add 'sexual orientation'.

I didn't support that either - and even spoke at the time about the on-going 'classification' of people due special protection or treatment.

In the end, I said let's take a page from Ms. Barra and change the Non-Discrimination Policy to TWO WORDS:

That was 659 days ago. In the time since, this Board, FCPS staff, parents, taxpayers and advocacy groups have collectively spent thousands of hours and untold resources on a topic that has, for all intents and purposes wound up exactly where we started.

Had Ms. Barra, GM's CEO, been a transgender woman, would her historic ascendency in the largely male-dominated automobile industry from a 17 year old to CEO be hailed as an example to young women in the nation?

Had the outcome of November's election been different, would the hail of the first women president in the United States be received the same - or send the same message - to young girls in the nation if Hillary Clinton were a transgender woman?

If Bruce Jenner won an Olympic Decathlon as Caitlyn Jenner, would results have been deemed fair to the young women also competing for the accomplishment and worldwide recognition?

It is not unkind, insensitive or diminishing to anyone to answer, emphatically, NO.

And that's the problem - because the air has been filled with invective - a narrative that if the answer is NO, it's for some (fill-in-the-blank) "IST" reason.

Few have been willing to say it. I took heaps of abuses for saying it in May 2015 and probably will again tonight because saying it out loud doesn't conform to the narrative which led to the May 2015 action of this Board, the May 2016 Dear Colleague of the previous Administration and the response to the new Office of Civil Rights Dear Colleague letter published yesterday by the new Administration.

The reason I repeated the words from that night's vote is because they were important and at the heart of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' hesitancy to support the new guidance- because she, too, wanted to ensure the message was maintained which I said then and now- two words:


We bring people together when we find common ground.

When we teach children in our educational care to respect differences and discuss them with the lens of meeting someone's different view not with antipathy but with curiosity. When we find things which people with disparate views can agree upon-that's when a dialogue happens, when understanding occurs, good policy is made and authentic stewardship by the elected officials entrusted by the public to represent all views turns into servant leadership.

I hope that the reset button last night is welcomed in the vein I believe it was intended - not the end of a contentious conversation but the beginning of a productive one which involves, engages and respects all stakeholders in concert with the role of parents as the primary educators of their own children.