Virginia’s highest court has agreed to take up a lawsuit against a school board over its decision to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its antidiscrimination policy.
The Virginia Supreme Court agreed Monday to take a lawsuit against Fairfax County Public Schools by the conservative legal group the Liberty Council, which argues that the school board overstepped its authority by adding “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” to their antidiscrimination policy.
In a statement released Monday, Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver described the state supreme court’s decision to take up the case as “very good news.”
“The Fairfax Country School Board’s lawless act of adding ‘gender identity, expression and sexual orientation’ to the local policy violates state law and harms children. This is a matter of statewide and national concern,” said Staver.
“The lower court’s dismissal was wrong and we look forward to the upcoming hearing before the Virginia Supreme Court. The fact that the Virginia Supreme Court decided to take up this case should be a warning to other local Virginia school boards and government bodies to back away from following the path of Fairfax County.”
Last December, the Liberty Council filed a lawsuit in Fairfax County Circuit Court on behalf of an unnamed student and Andrea Lafferty, head of the Traditional Values Coalition.
“Plaintiffs are asking this Court to halt Defendant’s attempt to introduce a new, undefined, experimental classification into the non-discrimination policy and student handbook of Fairfax County Public Schools (‘FCPS’) in excess of Defendant’s authority,” read the complaint.
“Despite overwhelming opposition from taxpayers, residents and parents of FCPS students, and without authority under the Virginia Constitution or from the General Assembly, on May 7, 2015 Defendant voted to add the undefined term ‘gender identity’ to its nondiscrimination policy and the terms ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ discrimination to the student handbook list of offenses for which students can be suspended from school.”
In February, the Circuit Court ruled against Lafferty and the unnamed student. In a statement, School Board Chairman Pat Hynes celebrated the decision.
“We’re very pleased with the Circuit Court of Fairfax County’s decision today to dismiss the lawsuit brought against the School Board by Ms. Lafferty and the other plaintiffs,” stated Hynes.
“The School Board remains committed to ensuring that all of our students and employees are treated fairly and with dignity and respect.”
The Virginia high court’s decision to hear the lawsuit comes a month after a district court judge in Texas placed a national injunction against President Barack Obama’s transgender bathroom directive for public schools.
In August, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas issued an injunction against the Obama directive, which among other things demands that public schools allow boys who identify as female to go into girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms.
“Defendants are enjoined from enforcing the guidelines against plaintiffs and their respective schools, school boards, and other public, educationally-based institutions,” decided O’Connor.
“All parties to this cause of action must maintain the status quo as of the date of issuance of this order and this preliminary injunction will remain in effect until the court rules on the merits of this claim, or until further direction from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.”