Va. schools implemented transgender policy without telling parents

From The Washington Times

By Kellan Howell

Five months after the Fairfax County School board hastily moved to change its nondiscrimination policy to include “gender identity” without consulting parents, a series of new documents has revealed that school administrators had already begun implementing controversial transgender policy changes before the vote even took place.

On the night of the May 7 vote, school board members informed concerned parents that a consultant would be hired to advise FCPS administrators on “best practices” for implementing the new policy, which was rushed through to a vote in the spring.

But several emails and documents obtained by concerned parents through Freedom of Information Act requests filed by Judicial Watch this week, revealed that on the night of the vote, school administrators had already hired a consultant.

In addition, school board members have been paying the consultant with taxpayer money without a written contract.

“They have tried to hide this consultant’s identity and payment. They have been deceptive. There’s been no formal contract, it’s like they signed a contract on a cocktail napkin; now we’re going to have to FOIA a cocktail napkin,” said Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, who worked with Judicial Watch to obtain the documents.

On the night of the vote, one parent emailed school board member Ryan McElveen to make a suggestion for a potential transgender policy consultant. The emails disclosed by the FOIA show Mr. McElveen responded that “the final candidate has already been chosen. Should be officially hired in the next couple of days.”

Mr. McElveen did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Times.

Elizabeth Schultz, the FCPS board member for Springfield, Virginia, and the only board member who voted against the transgender policy amendment in May, said she was also kept in the dark about the new consultant and has yet to receive any updates on the policy changes that are already being implemented.

“Staff is meeting privately with this guy, and he is already advising them and they are planning on using him going forward to advise and train staff. Train staff on what? We were told nothing would change,” Ms. Schultz told The Times.

School board staff told parents that a report on suggested “best practices” and policy changes would be assembled and made available to them in September, but so far no report has been issued.

When Ms. Schultz and other concerned parents asked about the status of the report, school administrators said that a written report could not yet be issued because they were awaiting the results of ongoing lawsuits on school transgender policies across the country. School administration staff said the board would continue to work with the consultant in the meantime.

The emails disclosed by the FOIA reveal that FCPS hired Jeffrey Poirier, a researcher on LGBT youth at the American Institutes for Research, to serve as the gender policy consultant for FCPS.

“He is one of a few experts in the country in the field of school policies and regulations regarding transgender students and teachers,” an FCPS staff member wrote in an email.

Mr. Poirier has authored several books and studies on school policies for LGBT youth and was a member of the Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health, for which he led the LGBTQ, Intersex and Two-Spirit (LGBTQI2-S) Learning Community. He has also managed projects for several school districts, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.

Excerpts from Mr. Poirier’s books shed some light on the kinds of changes he is likely to suggest.


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