MANASSAS, Va. — The Prince William County School Board has decided to postpone a vote to update its nondiscrimination policy to include protections for transgender staff and students.
At a meeting Wednesday night, the board voted 5 to 1 to delay the decision whether to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the nondiscrimination policy until June 2017. One board member abstained.
Before the vote, the debate brought parents, students and community out to speak, and 100 citizens approached the podium to weigh in on the issue.
“It is unwise to go ahead with a vote on this issue,” said Eric Kellum.
Opponents of the proposed policy changes, many wearing red, called for the board to vote against the change, and for more discussion to be held on the issue.
“It is certain that people with bad intentions will take advantage of being allowed to use whichever bathroom they please,” said one female student.
Supporters of the policy change on the other hand, called for the board to take quick and decisive action that they say will offer protections to all students.
“People come out in Prince William County Schools frequently, but at the same time the ability to do it can be frightening,” said Danica Roem, a transgender woman who lives in Manassas.
Resident Don Shaw called the vote to protect students and staff based on gender identity and sexual orientation is the civil rights issue of this century.
“You as a school board currently forbid discrimination against anyone in Prince William County Schools on this basis — what makes LGBT students and staff unworthy of your protections?” Shaw said.