An embattled northern Virginia school district has aggravated both parents and teachers with a new policy that would see boys and girls in grades 4-8 taught sex education together, apparently in order to avoid alienating their trans-identifying classmates.
Currently, instruction at those grade levels in Fairfax County Public Schools is separated by sex, but LGBTQ activists have argued that this harms trans-identifying students by potentially forcing them to out themselves or to pick a gender they don’t identify with. Opponents of the proposal have argued that combining the classes by sex would create awkwardness and tension, decrease student participation in class and lead to a greater number of students opting out of the program entirely.
“Notwithstanding the public expressing its clear opposition to this & explaining how combined classes will be less effective, the Family Life Committee plans to push forward with the plan for political reasons,” The Fairfax County Parents Association said via Twitter.
🚨Breaking: Activists Buried FCPS Survey Showing Overwhelming Opposition to Combined Sex-Ed Classes🚨
Activists on FCPS’s Family Life Committee plan to recommend & push for a vote proposing combined gender sex-ed classes despite survey showing ~85% opposition to plan. pic.twitter.com/XPjOYxL6nO
— Fairfax County Parents Association (@FFXParentsAssoc) March 4, 2023
Fairfax County Public schools have drawn fire for withholding academic awards from minority students in the name of “equity” and for its handling of sexual abuse allegations. The county, one of the wealthiest in the nation, is just outside of Washington D.C. It is also Virginia’s most populous county and its school district is the 10th largest in the country.
The parents association on Saturday released data from an internal survey conducted by the school district which had until that point been hidden from the public, which found overwhelming opposition to the proposal — almost 85% of survey respondents opposed combined instruction. Every subcategory that was surveyed opposed the changes by a large majority: among parents 183 were in favor compared to 1392 who were opposed, among teachers 14 were in favor and 100 were opposed, and among students 20 were in favor and 60 were opposed.
The group alleges that the survey data has been deliberately suppressed in order to keep the issue out of the public eye so that supporters on the school board and attendant committees can push the changes through in an upcoming vote on March 30 with minimal opposition.
The Daily Wire reached out to several members of the Fairfax County School Board about the proposed changes to the curriculum. At the time of writing, they had not responded.
Several concerned residents of Fairfax County expressed concern about the proposed changes to The Daily Wire and the transparency of the process.
Family Life Education (FLE) and issues surrounding sex and gender identity have been highly contentious within the district for much of the last decade. The controversy within the community began as far back as 2015, when gender identity was first added as a protected class under the district’s non-discrimination policy, with later overhauls to the curriculum striking terms such as “biological sex” in favor of “sex assigned at birth”.
The Fairfax County school board has allied itself with LGBTQ activists and against critics such as Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, who centered his campaign on this issue of parents’ rights in their children’s education.
“The Fairfax County School Board understands that our LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and families are worried about the impact of Governor Youngkin’s proposed model policies for transgender and gender-expansive students.” The school board said in a public statement last year. “Nearly one in five transgender and non-binary youth attempted suicide in the last year. LGBTQIA+ youth who found their school to be affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide. It is necessary to ensure our school community is a place where all students can live without fear of prejudice, discrimination, harassment, or violence.”
“Fairfax County has prided itself for a long time on being a progressive wedge and setting the tone.” Laura Bryant Hanford, a former member of the county’s FLE Curriculum Advisory Committee told the Daily Wire.
Still, Fairfax is not a monolith, and many parents, instructors, and residents have reservations about gender ideology and its influence on FLE.
“We’re oversexualizing kids,” one community member, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of personal and professional reprisal, told The Daily Wire. “We’re asking the kids their sexual preferences … their gender … why are we even talking sexual preference in middle or elementary school? … This is an age when they’re confused.”
Still, the issue has become contentious enough that many residents believe they can only speak out at great personal cost.“People have jobs,” Andrea Bayer, a former school board candidate, told The Daily Wire. “They’re contractors and government employees, and anything they say will be used against them.”
“Fairfax County doesn’t play around,” one resident told The Daily Wire. “If, somehow, they got wind that I talked to you, they’re coming for me now.”