It’s becoming an everyday occurrence in Virginia—school board meetings where unruly mobs spew out ignorant and hate-filled nonsense under the auspices of patriotism and constitutional rights. Last night it was Augusta County, where a vote was scheduled on whether or not to adopt the Virginia Department of Education’s model policy for the treatment of transgender students.
The meeting commenced with a statement from the school board that the Augusta County schools aligns its instructional material and curriculum with the Virginia Department of Education’s endorsed and approved curriculum, which does NOT include Critical Race Theory in any of its approved curriculum or standards of learning, nor does it have any plans to do so. This was met with wild applause and a standing ovation from the crowd. And nevertheless, multiple speakers mentioned their opposition to CRT and urged the school board to ban its teaching, because there is apparently a seamless flow of politicization between mask mandates, CRT, and transgender student policies.
What followed was a stream of parents and other community members, about 50:1 in opposition to the adoption of the model policy, although many were clearly there to talk about many aspects of the “liberal agenda” and “tyrannical government” in Richmond. I don’t want to repeat too much of their ignorant bigotry, often fueled by their seeming religious zealotry. But a few parents’ words stuck out.
One parent said, to loud cheers and applause, that approving the transgender model student policy would be “leaving the door open for countless other issues–what happens if a child decides they want to identify as a dog, will we let him pee in the bushes? Do we have to get litter boxes for high school students who decide to identify as a cat?” He concluded that “It is sickening that we cannot shout with one voice of righteous clarity on this issue.” I agree that something was sickening there.
Another parent claimed she had asked a friend who’s “chosen to become a transgender male” about his experiences with bullying, and she concluded “do you think a bathroom change will solve this problem?” Yet another quoted some Biblical verses about “perversions outside the Lord’s plan” and something about people being punished for their support. One man said this policy:
“spits in the face of everyone of Judeo-Christian or Muslim belief whose belief systems both speak out against homosexuality. Let me assure you, there will be consequences if you accept this policy. Some will be immediate, some will be eternal. When this policy causes a child to stumble and fall into a lifestyle of depravity and sexual immorality, every member of this board who refuses to oppose it will be held accountable. Not only by the citizens of Augusta County but by God himself. I promise you his wrath will be far worse than anything Richmond can bring to bear.”
Let’s be very clear. Democrats and Democratic activists have worked hard to turn the Commonwealth around, to enact laws that a majority of Virginians support. Laws that bring Virginia into the modern era after decades of Republican control of the legislature and/or the Governor’s mansion. Our success has been an inspiration to the rest of the country, gave hope to people all over the country that we would survive four years of Trump.
But I have to tell you, the intensity and persistence that brought millions of pink-hatted women into the streets on January 5th 2016, and that stirred them to not just protest in the streets but organize and work and get people to the ballot box, that intensity is what we’re seeing right now from these right-wing people. A candidate for school board at the meeting last night, referenced Admiral Yamamoto after Pearl Harbor and said: “Now we’re awake. That sleeping giant is fully awake. And we have had enough.” Another urged people “let’s put a prayer covering over this community, and let’s take back our country.” A man threatened that “regardless of what happens tonight, the November election is going to be a referendum on this issue.” One after another: “Now we’re stirred up, now we’re riled up, now we’re mad, and now we’re gonna be involved and we’re gonna make a difference.”
FYI, the Augusta County School Board voted unanimously not to approve the policy. So, the challenge is to you: will YOU make the November election a referendum on this issue (and on the rest of the laws our Democratic majority worked so hard to pass)? Will you continue to work as hard and with the same intensity and persistence as you had when fighting back against Trump and taking the Democratic majority? Because this can all be overturned and undone in a single election. Don’t fall asleep, don’t let this happen—your lives and the lives of your loved ones and friends count on you staying engaged and activated.