Fairfax County, Virginia, schools are keeping in step with the Obama administration’s latest directive to make accommodations for transgender students.
The Fairfax School Board recently made the decision to amend its student handbook to ban discrimination against transgender students, reports the Washington Post.
It was a move that angered some board members and set off an intense debate that lasted three hours Thursday night.
Several community members were escorted out of the meeting as board members passed the decision in a 9 to 3 vote.
Opponents of the move say that the change was abrupt and unexpected because the amendment was introduced late in the meeting and hadn't gone through the proper vetting process.
"I have a little child and she's afraid of boys and now she has boys coming into the bathroom," one father told WTOP. He didn't want to be named after he left the meeting upset.
Supporters argued that approving the measure only made sense because the district already adopted a nondiscrimination policy last year.
“I think it’s important to go ahead and make what is a housekeeping change, that should have been made by staff,” said board chairman Pat Hynes.
"We are going to ask our students to sign something that we haven't discussed," said board member Jeanette Hough. "The goal is that each child is treated with love. . . . We get there by listening to one another and asking good questions, not by passing motions last-minute."
Hough and other board members asked that the amendment be put on hold.
"Let's not do it this way, where we've got some members of the community feeling like they didn't have a chance to speak at all," said board member Thomas Wilson.
The change now prohibits schools from excluding students from activities or from discriminating against students on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
This district has yet to spell out rules for sports teams, locker rooms, or bathrooms but those regulations may come in the future.
Hough asked the board members and a board attorney what the new policy would mean for students, who, for religious reasons, cannot share a room with students of the opposite gender during overnight trips.
"What is the consequence for a Muslim student requesting a same-biological-gender hotel room for a school overnight trip?" she asked.
It’s a question that still remains unanswered.