As I walked around the Gainesville house and neared the backyard, I took a moment to reflect on the circumstances that had brought me there. It was a Friday evening and as I live in the eastern part of Prince William County, I was in unfamiliar territory. The town hall I was about to “crash” would largely be attended by folks who believe the exact opposite of what I do about the LGBT community, especially when it comes to those who are transgender.
The non-discrimination policy of the Prince William County School system does not currently include sexual orientation or gender identity. There are currently no legal protections in place for those who are discriminated against based on who they love or their gender identity; both faculty and students. Last year, the pressure was such that the school board postponed voting on the additions until this year. June 21st marks when they will revisit it.
The town hall in question was organized by those in power who believe that the policy is just fine the way it is, and was a means of gathering and speaking to those who feel the same. It was also a means of galvanizing and mobilizing them.
The Town Hall
What I found as I rounded the house was a small gathering – no more than a couple dozen – largely made up of parents, a few prominent figures within the political circles of Prince William, two school board members, a county board member, and a sitting delegate (spoilers: it was Bob Marshall.)
Much more encouraging, though, was the fact that Lt. Governor Candidate Gene Rossi (and his two sons) was also in attended, standing in solidarity with the few who had shown up to support the additions to the policy. From experience, I know that there are dozens of other events and ways that Gene could have been spending his time in the heat of campaign season, so it spoke volumes that he showed up.
What inspired me most of all, though, was the fact that there were folks there would be directly affected by the changes to the policy. I felt uneasy as a straight male, so I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be a member of the LGBT community standing there and listening to Bob Marshall and others spew language centered around fear and intolerance. Several times throughout the event, speakers referred to transgender women as “boys who think they are girls” and LGBT folks in general as “kids and teachers who are confused.” As always, the debunked fear of men going into the girl’s room to sexually assault female students was brought up, and quite a few of the parents present echoed that fear.
And yet, members of the LGBT community were present. Visibly disgusted, worried, and downright angry, but present. We were in the lion’s den; they knew it, we knew it, but they were there nonetheless.
They had the bravery to endure. The least I could do was stand with them in solidarity.
That’s why I publicly support the additions of sexual orientation and gender identity to the Prince William County School System’s Non-Discrimination Policy. For far too long we’ve let these folks fight their battles alone, and we’ve let the opposition control the narrative.
No more. On June 21st, we stand up and fight to protect all students and faculty, no matter who they love or their gender identity. I hope you’ll join us.
I support adding gender identity and sexual orientation to the Prince William Public School's non-discrimination policy because we need to to talk the walk when it comes to being an inclusive and welcoming county. Faculty and students should feel protected no matter their gender identity or who they love. #PWCSequality #Progress2017
Posted by Ken A. Boddye on Tuesday, June 6, 2017