In Loudoun County, concerned parents believe public school board members are censoring free speech and discriminating against students based on race.
Tuesday night brought the latest in a series of showdowns between outraged parents and a school board that they believe is indoctrinating children with leftist ideology.
HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED ON TUESDAY
Loudoun School Board Ends Meeting Abruptly as Furious Parents Protest Christian Teacher's Suspension
Loudoun County Public Schools are now seen as ground zero for the public controversies that are roiling parents nationwide. Voices here are among the loudest with a growing number of parents insisting the system is indoctrinating children with an anti-American agenda.
About an hour west of Washington, D.C., the area is famous for rolling hills, wineries, and staggering population growth over the last couple decades.
These days, however, it's getting headlines for explosive school board meetings, which now include irate parents reading X-rated book excerpts from the required high school grade reading list.
"They're perverted," said Natasha Grover, a parent. "There's no other reasonable explanation for why adults would want to expose other people's kids to sexual content."
Grover is among a growing chorus of Loudoun parents accusing school board members of targeting religious freedom and traditional family values.
"They're teaching children to essentially hate their parents," said Mike Miller of Discerning the Faith Ministries.
Many parents are also sounding off about a divisive race curriculum.
"It's abusive and discriminates against one's color," shouted Shawntel Cooper at a school board meeting last month.
Patti Menders is among those who insist students are used to push politics.
"My parents escaped from Communist Cuba in 1961, and I was taught at a very young age what to look for in socialism. What do they do? They go right to the children," said Menders.
While there are some parents who support the school board's actions, calls continue to grow from others who say it has got to go.
The Fight for Our Schools Political Action Committee has collected thousands of signatures so far to recall six of the nine board members.
"We get calls from all over the country asking how they can replicate there what we are doing here," said Ian Prior, who organized the group.
Many are accusing the LCPS of using its so-called "Equity Plan" to push Critical Race Theory, which opponents say teaches all institutions are racist.
"Fallacies are alive and well. They've been tricked into something not many black people are into," said Joe Mobley, host of The Joe Mobley Show.
"We're just trying to let people know what they are doing. You put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig," said Scott Mineo of Parents Against Critical Theory.
Though an LCPS spokesman denied several of our requests to interview interim superintendent Scott Ziegler, Ziegler publicly insists its equity plan is not critical race theory.
But some parents are now suing administrators over race-based initiatives in the plan that they claim could stifle free speech and discriminate. "The Ambassador Equity Program, one of their equity groups, I got rejected because I am white," said a high school student.
"They are doing a lot of their dirty work through teachers," said Mineo.
Another sensitive subject for many parents and even some educators is perceived attacks on religious freedom, including LGBTQ books reported to be used in elementary classrooms. "There's a lot of stuff in the classrooms that are kind of hush hush hush, but they're there," said teacher Karen Mineo.
Then in May, elementary gym teacher Tanner Cross was placed on administrative leave for saying this:
"I serve God first and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it's against my religion."
Per order of a judge, Cross is back to work for now. Though LCPS is fighting the judge's decision to reinstate him.
Meanwhile, the fallout is spilling over into a local pulpit with Pastor Gary Hamrick of Cornerstone Chapel speaking out in defense of Cross.
"They are emotionally abusing our children by perpetuating the lie about gender confusion when they affirm pronouns that are contrary to biology, reality and the beautiful design of God. They need to be held accountable," said Hamrick to parishioners.
As local Democrats demand Hamrick recant his comments, Cross's congregation is lining up to support him and sign a petition to recall the school board.
"As they see this liberal progressive agenda infiltrating our school system, the parents should rise up and say, 'We don't like the people who are making these choices,' and if they want to replace them, they should not only replace them, but they themselves should want to run for the school board and get in people they support and better represent their values," said Hamrick.
While some may agree with this direction, critics insist public schools funded by taxpayer dollars do not exist to groom activists, shame children for their skin color, or deny them the innocence of childhood. Concerned parents here say they hope their fight will encourage others across the country to do the same.
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