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Fairfax Public School System Limits Student Access to Gavin Grimm Talk, Requires “Balance?”

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This is interesting…not sure what to make of it, exactly, but it seems very strange to me to require “balance” for “LGBTQ civil rights icon” Gavin Grimm or to limit student participation. Here’s a statement from FCPS Pride, “an organization for LGBTQ employees, parents of LGBTQ students, and LGBTQ parents, and allies, in Fairfax County Public Schools.”

Fairfax County Public Schools is limiting students’ access to LGBTQ civil rights icon Gavin Grimm’s discussion of his experience in the inner workings of a civil rights case in Virginia involving non segregation of transgender students. Originally planned with Gavin speaking to large groups of approximately 200 in the morning of December 8, 2017, the program is now limited to a single class of approximately 25 students, with no admittance for general students not in that class. The central administration of Fairfax County Public Schools insists that Gavin by his coming to Fairfax County and speaking to students creates a “controversial issue” in a way that a previous civil rights speaker, John Lewis, did not. John Lewis spoke at the same school the previous year as part of the same series; his address was open to the entire student body and faculty; indeed, the auditorium was overflowing and people were turned away. It is unclear why Gavin’s presentation is being treated differently.

In addition, the county administration insists that a speaker “from the other side” (whatever that means) be arranged, to provide “balance.” Gavin, of course, had not planned on speaking on any “side” of an issue.

If the appearance of a transgender teen is viewed as controversial in FCPS, then one of the three following aspects must be controversial: 1) acceptance of transgender students in schools; 2) non-discrimination of transgender people in FCPS; or 3) the use of accommodations in line with best practices when it comes to transgender students using the restrooms. We the Executive Board of “FCPS Pride” thought these acceptances were already won. If not, it is major news and a change in practice; thus it should be announced and discussed.

LGBTQ people are of course wondering why discussion of civil rights achievements based on racial, ethnic and religious characteristics are honored, while ours trigger regulation 3280.4 as a “controversial issue.” The appearance of another civil rights icon in the same series last year (John Lewis) did not cause such hullabaloo. Nearly 20 years ago avowed segregationist Strom Thurmond addressed an audience at Glasgow Middle School. Are only LGBTQ Civil Rights figures limited in this way?

http://www.boarddocs.com/…/fil…/9HF25K6B5D40/$file/P3280.pdf

“FCPS Pride” in its mission statement says “We envision a public school system in which each person feel welcome, respected and safe, regardless of Gender Identity/Expression or Sexual Orientation”. By denying access to Gavin’s message to the vast majority of the West Potomac community, in extra-ordinary procedures, and by declaring that LGBTQ civil rights are “controversial “ while the civil rights of others are not, Fairfax County Public Schools leads us inevitably to feel neither welcome, respected nor safe.

We call upon the Superintendent to restore the agreed upon Status Quo Ante, in which Gavin is to speak to small and medium-sized groups of students, open to all students who received written parent permission. Trust between the wider LGBTQ community and the central administration of FCPS is incumbent on a swift, agreeable resolution of this teapot tempest.

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Executive Board of “FCPS Pride”

“FCPS Pride” is an organization for LGBTQ employees, parents of LGBTQ students, and LGBTQ parents, and allies, in Fairfax County Public Schools. We are certified by the Human Resources Department,, but are not official spokespeople for the school system.

  • Perseus1986

    Sadly this is not surprising given that the same school board dragged its feet forever in renaming JEB Stuart High School, all the while Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield is up and remains unchallenged.