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June 16, 2017

The ACLU of Virginia sent a letter on June 15 to the Prince William County School Board’s legal counsel Mary McGowan, Esq. to offer guidance on the school district’s plan to amend its non-discrimination policy, which will specifically affirm protection for LGBT students and employees.

In the letter, we highlighted that under Virginia Law, PWC School Board  has the authority to amend their non-discrimination policies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We also assured the board that Virginia courts will not entertain lawsuits against the school division based on nothing more than speculations that students will be harm by its non-discrimination policy, citing a recent ruling by the Fairfax County Circuit Court that dismissed a challenge to the school division’s non-discrimination policy.

Furthermore, PWC School Board should amend its non-discrimination policy to bring the policy in line with the division’s existing obligations under federal law. As Title IX, Title VII, and the Equal Protection Clause protect students and staff from discrimination based on the basis of sex, which includes gender identity and sexual orientation, the school division could be held liable for failing to protect LGBTQ students and employees.

We also explained how the board will benefit from inclusive policies, which will prevent anti-LGBTQ victimization and help transgender students thrive.

LGBTQ students and staff deserve to be treated fairly and equally. PWC School Board should, and must, protect its students and employees from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.