School Board weighs changing sex ed to make it more LGBTQ inclusive

By Karen Kirk:

The Fairfax County School board heard spirited comments both for and against changing the public school sex education curriculum to make it more LGBTQ inclusive at its regular meeting Thursday, May 24.

The discussion was a precursor to the vote on June 14 on changing wording in the Family Life Education (FLE) curriculum. The proposed changes include using the term  “sex assigned at birth” rather than “biological sex” and informing high school students about a pill that was recently approved for adolescents to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

Paul Wooldridge, who has two children who attended the Fairfax County Public Schools system, one of them transgender, spoke movingly of his son’s experience.  “Now FCPS has many teachers and administrators who recognize the rights and needs of transgender students. However my son’s experience showed that there are plenty of students and a few teachers that were not so understanding and accepting of the person he is.”

“He was teased and degraded in the halls by fellow students,” continued Wooldridge. “He was also intimidated by a few faculty members in apparent attempts to make him feel shame or lesser of a person. This unsolicited treatment was dished out in spite of my son’s attempts to proactively educate the faculty and fellow school students about the transgender issues and human rights.”

Wooldridge added, “Many students would suffer greatly from that kind of bullying to the point that their school performance would suffer or they would feel pressured not to go to school to avoid that treatment or even worse, to resort to self-harm. Luckily my son is a strong character and he prevailed and graduated with flying colors but that doesn’t justify having him experience such misguided and cruel treatment by the uninformed.”

On the other side, expectant mother Tabitha Walter said,  “We just learned this week that we are expecting a baby boy … This board is about to teach students that it’s impossible to know a baby’s sex. That biological sex is meaningless —  is hazardous material for young minds.”

She continued, “We were shocked to learn that it’s this school board’s policy to automatically enroll all children in the highly sensitive controversial sex ed lessons without getting their parents’ permission first. That is outrageous. You ask for parents’ permission before giving an aspirin, but you don’t ask our permission before teaching children that they were not really born male or female or that they can transition to another sex?”

Walter was one of several people who criticized the board’s proposed new language in person and in a submitted polished, professional video shown at the end of the night.

Robert Rigby defends PrEP at School Board meeting/ Photos by Karen Kirk

Robert Rigby said he was concerned that Fairfax voices will be overwhelmed in a national conservative campaign against changes in the FLE, including a nationwide call to email the board and comment.

Rigby dealt with  “pre-exposure prophyaxis” or “PrEP”, a treatment to protect against HIV. Information about PrEP is proposed to be included in the FLE curriculum. A PrEP drug called Truvada was approved on May 15 by the Food and Drug Administration for adolescents, after having gained approval for adults in 2012.

“Some people say it is for gay and bisexual men and sex workers,” Rigby said. “I say, should we not value those lives? But also a major use of PrEP is for married or partnered couples where one person has HIV and the other does not. PrEP relieves those families of fear and maybe keeps those marriages together. Most people I know personally who use PrEP are in that situation.”

In response to a call for support from Fairfax County LGBTQ+ Democrats, a number of people showed up for the meeting holding purple signs reading  “Fairfax Respects Everyone.”

Supporters also are encouraged to attend the Thursday, June 14, school board meeting when there will be a final vote on the FLE curriculum changes. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Merrifield, VA 22042.

Photo above story is of the audience waving ““Fairfax Respects Everyone” signs while a slick, submitted video opposing FLE changes plays.



Karen Kirk, Deputy Editor and Photo Editor of The Blue View, is a retired journalist.



7 thoughts on “School Board weighs changing sex ed to make it more LGBTQ inclusive

  1. Fairfax respects everyone…exceptfor conservative voices!! So hypocritical! These are sensitive issues so why are we shoving this down kids throats. Let parents teach their children.

  2. This is not the job of the school. Males are males and females are females.
    If you see an anorexic do you tell them they are fat? No, obviously they aren’t fat but they THINK they are.
    You may think you are a girl or boy (not the gender you were born) but you can’t force me or my child to think that.
    You can feel or think what you want, I want to do the same. I do not want this ramrodded
    down my child’s throat.

  3. Gender Identity turns out not to be a matter of thinking or feeling, of “mind,” but rather a measurable biological reality. Multiple neurological (including MRI) and genetic studies demonstrate that transgender people are really who they say they are. Fairfax County’s approach only reflects scientific and educational best practices.

  4. What is wrong with educating children to be respectful of others, of the current standards in scientific knowledge, and how to apply the Golden rule?

  5. Thrilled that our school board continues to follow science and the medical community’s advice, both to use accurate terminology and to teach kids how to protect themselves from HIV. The hardworking community volunteers on the FLECAC deserve our thanks, rather than the sort of demonization some in the GOP seem to throw at them.

    Fairfax respects conservative voices. There were such voices on the FLECAC. There were several such voices at the school board meeting. They deserve to be heard and were. However, as we saw in November, they are the minority in our county and our commonwealth and they should not get a heckler’s veto.

  6. I don’t understand these parents complaining, claiming that FCPS is “shoving this down kids throats” or “not the job of the school”. I have two kids in FCPS right now (middle and high school.). Every SINGLE year, you are given the opportunity to read through the FLE lessons and OPT OUT. You can opt out at the beginning of the year, and/but, when the FLE lessons come up, you are given ANOTHER opportunity to opt out. You can opt out of individual lessons or everything. FCPS goes out of their way to be sensitive to all parents.
    What they are teaching is based on current scientific data.

  7. A reminder to all those who are voicing their horribly bigoted and mean-spirited views of LGBTQ people — your children are watching how you conduct yourself. Many of them will grow up to be part of the LGBTQ community and how you conduct yourself will have long lasting repercussions on the quality and depth of your relationship with them. I leave you with these words from PFLAG leader Mary Griffith whose son was LGBTQ:

    “Homosexuality is a sin. Homosexuals are doomed to spend eternity in hell. If they wanted to change, they could be healed of their evil ways. If they would turn away from temptation, they could be normal again if only they would try and try harder if it doesn’t work. These are all the things I said to my son Bobby when I found out he was gay. When he told me he was homosexual my world fell apart. I did everything I could to cure him of his sickness. Eight months ago my son jumped off a bridge and killed himself. I deeply regret my lack of knowledge about gay and lesbian people. I see that everything I was taught and told was bigotry and de-humanizing slander. If I had investigated beyond what I was told, if I had just listened to my son when he poured his heart out to me I would not be standing here today with you filled with regret. I believe that God was pleased with Bobby’s kind and loving spirit. In God’s eyes kindness and love are what it’s all about. I didn’t know that each time I echoed eternal damnation for gay people each time I referred to Bobby as sick and perverted and a danger to our children. His self esteem and sense of worth were being destroyed. And finally his spirit broke beyond repair. It was not God’s will that Bobby climbed over the side of a freeway overpass and jumped directly into the path of an eighteen-wheel truck which killed him instantly. Bobby’s death was the direct result of his parent’s ignorance and fear of the word gay. He wanted to be a writer. His hopes and dreams should not have been taken from him but they were. There are children, like Bobby, sitting in your congregations. Unknown to you they will be listening as you echo ‘amen’ and that will soon silence their prayers. Their prayers to God for understanding and acceptance and for your love but your hatred and fear and ignorance of the word gay, will silence those prayers. So, before you echo ‘amen’ in your home and place of worship. Think. Think and remember a child is listening.”

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