Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Suit Challenges Virginia School's Addition of Gender Identity To Non-Discrimination Rules

As reported by the Washington Post, last week a suit was filed in state court in Virginia challenging the Fairfax County School Board's addition of "gender identity" to its non-discrimination policy.  The change was made to comply with federal interpretation of Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  The complaint (full text) (Liberty Counsel press release) in Lafferty v. School Board of Fairfax County, (VA Cir. Ct., filed 12/21/2015), contends that the change violates a Virginia statute that prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting broader anti-discrimination protections than are accorded by state law. A state Attorney General's Opinion, however, had concluded that school boards do have the power to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The suit was brought by the head of the Traditional Values Coalition and by an anonymous high school student identified in the complaint as Jack Doe.  The suit contends:
Because the new policy and code of conduct are not sufficiently defined, Jack Doe has no way of knowing whether he can, for example, question someone who appears to be a girl using the boys’ restroom or locker room, refer to someone by a certain pronoun or even compliment someone on his/her attire without being subject to discipline for “discrimination.”...
Jack Doe is terrified of the thought of having to share intimate spaces with students who have the physical features of a girl, seeing such conduct as an invasion of his privacy, invasion of fellow students’ privacy and a violation of the though[t] patterns and understanding about male and female relationships which are part of his cultural values.