Fairfax Co. school board unanimously votes to protect transgender student rights

The School Board in Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest district, unanimously voted Thursday night to protect the rights of its transgender and gender-expansive students.

The updated Students Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) document “details expectations for student behavior and adult responses designed to enhance school safety and create a fair, equitable, and supportive school environment,” the board said in a release.

Key among the changes are the establishment of essential rights and protections for transgender and other gender-expansive students in accordance with the school board’s nondiscrimination policy, FCPS regulations and Virginia code.

“In recent months, school board meetings in neighboring counties have descended into chaos as extremists attempt to deny these [gender-expansive and transgender] students their very existence, attack their humanity and object to their right to thrive in public schools,” said Karl Frisch, the board’s Providence District representative and first openly LGBTQ member.

“To the gender-expansive and transgender students and their families who have witnessed these attacks on their simple human dignity, I am sorry. You deserve much, much better,” Frisch said. “Tonight’s vote will not sweep away the pain and hurt you have experienced at the hands of careless peers or adults who should know better.”

Frisch called the changes to the SR&R “long overdue.”

In the updated document, students are confirmed to have the right to use bathroom facilities that align with their gender identity; the right to be called by their chosen name and pronoun; the right to non-disclosure of their gender identity or sexual orientation, and the right to receive support that ensures equitable access to all school facilities and activities, the release said.

In addition, the revised SR&R protects students from being intentionally outed or maliciously misgendered or deadnamed.

Read the full SR&R online.

Watch Frisch’s remarks and the vote below.

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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