Last Tuesday night, in a bold move countering the state’s new law outlining transgender treatment in schools, the Newport News School board voted against implementing the law.
School administrators had asked the board to change current policies to reflect guidance from the state and protect trans people from bullying and discrimination. The state law requires that every school district implement the law prior to the start of the 2021 school year.
The board voted against the change, 5-1, with one member, Terri Best, abstaining. Board member Gary Hunter cast the sole vote in favor. Most of the board members expressed discomfort with parts of the guidelines.
Chairman Douglas Brown said that the law violates the rights of Christian parents like him who believe kids aren’t capable of making choices about their gender.
“When the law violates the Constitution, it is a bad law,” he said. “In this case, this law violates the Constitution.”
The meeting was packed with attendees who addressed the board in an hour-long public comment session. Many of those were parishioners at World Outreach Worship Center, a Pentecostal church in Denbigh with a membership of 1,200.
It’s not clear what will happen to school divisions that don’t follow the law, which doesn’t spell out consequences. Attorneys for the state have said it would not cease funding for schools that don’t pass policies.
The Portsmouth School Board voted last month to implement the state’s transgender policy. The Suffolk School Division said they adopted a transgender policy back in 2019. The Virginia Beach School Board votes on the policy on Tuesday, August 24th. The Chesapeake School Board has held two public meetings on the issue and are scheduled to vote on August 23.
At this time, there are no details on when Norfolk and Hampton School Boards will consider the issue.
Concerned citizens can find contact information for all Newport News School board members here.