Virginia's Fairfax County School Board passed an amendment on Thursday that protects transgender students, staff and faculty from discrimination reports BuzzFeed. Fairfax's decision upsets a trend set by two other school districts in Virginia that banned trans students from using single-sex facilities that match their gender identity.
Fairfax is the largest school system in Virginia with more than 186,000 students. School board member Ryan McElveen, a proponent behind the amendment, said the proposal is designed to bring a "new age of respect," for transgender individuals.
"Whenever we make a decision, it has bearing on state and national policy, and we are hoping this will bring a new age of respect and valuing of transgender and gender-nonconforming students and employees.
"We have never had a single complaint about a student's restroom use, sports team participation, or transgender staff raised to our level (on the school board), and I think that proves we have handled our cases successfully. Our policy is not changing our practices."
However, the passage of the amendment proved contentious when opponents and supporters of the amendment crowded the meeting room, with opponents attempting to frame the debate around whether the amendment would "let boys snoop in girls' restrooms." Debates between the two groups proved so acrimonious that security was called to mitigate the tension between them.
Security standing by because Fairfax County Public Schools board meeting because it is so unruly pic.twitter.com/2grLr5Nqc4
— Alexandra Limon (@AlexandraFox5DC) May 8, 2015