PRINCE WILLIAM, CO - Wednesday night, after hearing nearly three hours of public comment, the Prince William County School Board voted 5-3 to amend their discrimination policy to include protections for LGBTQ students.
Masses of people gathered outside prior to the school board meeting, many with rainbow colored flags showing their support for the changes to the policy, while others held up signs which read, “Recall Sawyers” in a show of opposition.
“It’s a measure that would add gender and gender preference to our anti-discrimination rules.”, explains Prince William County Public Schools Director of Communications, Phil Kavits.
The school board adopted changes to Policy 060, which deals with nondiscrimination and commitment to equity, to include “sexual orientation and gender identity”.
The measure guides the Superintendent maintain the current bathroom and locker room practices and regulations.
The move comes after the board voted last September to leave the decision up to the courts whether or not to amend the policy.
During the meeting, Potomac District Board Member, Justin David Wilk addressed the board saying,
“This is a very important issue and not listening to all sides and all view points of this would be negligent and something that I would not deem responsible of an elected official.”
Warwick Steer is a proponent of the amendment who questions why anyone would oppose the measure.
“When you’re voting no, what are you voting no against?”, asks Steer, “I mean, there are signs around here that we see about the other 99 percent of students that are not in the LGBT community… that’s fine, they have protections too. We’re not taking anything away from them.”
Still, others like Andrea Miller who was passing out ‘Vote No’ stickers, have taken a hard stance against the amendment.
She points to concern for her daughter’s safety when it comes to access to restrooms, locker rooms and overnight trips.
She says, “It’s not that I think all transgender people will just attack her, but she has the right to feel psychologically safe.”
Miller says she would feel more comfortable if other accommodations like separate bathrooms and locker rooms were made for transgender students.
The newly amended discrimination policy goes into effect next school year.