FCPS Adds Gender Identity to Non-Discrimination Policy

FCPS+Adds+Gender+Identity+to+Non-Discrimination+Policy

Photo Courtesy of http://wttg.images.worldnow.com/images/7692017_G.jpg

Nik Popli, News Editor

After countless hours of objections, Fairfax County Public Schools has voted to add gender identity to its non-discrimination policy in order to protect students and staff members who identify as transgender. The approved policy change provides a safe school environment which promotes equality where every student and employee is safe from harassment and discrimination.

On May 7, the School Board passed the policy change with a vote of 10 to one. This change comes just 6 months after the board added sexual orientation to policy.

The approved non-discrimination policy now reads:
“No student, employee, or applicant for employment in the Fairfax County Public Schools shall, on the basis of age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, marital status, or disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity, as required by law. It is the express intent of the School Board that every policy, practice, and procedure shall conform to all applicable requirements of federal and state law.”

The move was first proposed by FCPS Board Member Ryan McElveen after Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) stated that local school boards have the right to increase protections to transgender people.
“In FCPS, we have an increasing number of students self-identifying as transgender and as gender non-conforming,” said McElveen. “These are our most vulnerable and at-risk students, and it’s critical for our board to ensure that they feel welcomed and supported at the highest levels of our system.”

FCPS is now thinking about incorporating gender-neutral bathrooms in an attempt to help gender-queer students feel more comfortable in school.

“The rate of suicide attempts among transgender and gender nonconforming people is staggering,” said McElveen. “Whereas 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population has self-reported a suicide attempt, 41 percent of transgender or gender non-conforming people surveyed have attempted suicide. We cannot ignore these statistics, and we cannot lose one more life of a student who believes they aren’t accepted by their society or their school system.”