In what was seen as a victory for LGBTQ advocates, the Loudoun County School Board approved the policy by a 7-to-2 vote following hours of debate and after minor amendments were made.
“LCPS’ number one priority is to foster the success of all students and ensure they feel safe, secure, accepted, and ready to learn at school,” Loudoun County Public Schools said in a statement. “The school division will continue to do its due diligence in creating that environment and remaining open and transparent with all LCPS partners, community members, and stakeholders.”
Policy 8040 requires teachers to use preferred pronouns and allows “gender-expansive and transgender students” to participate in sports and other activities “in a manner consistent with the student’s gender identity.”
It also allows transgender students access to school facilities that correspond to their “consistently asserted gender identity.”
The policy follows Virginia law, which directed districts to consider revised anti-harassment guidelines.
On Wednesday, School Board Member Jeff Morse denounced the guidelines, according to FOX 5 of Washington D.C.
“The policy is not needed. The policy does not solve the issues that it’s purported to solve. The policy has forced our focus out of education and I will not support it,” Morse said.
“From years past, compared to comparing that to today’s classroom and today’s workforce is like comparing technology of 1980 to today’s technology, our teachers, administrators, and counselors are well trained to identify issues and provide emotional support to students,” he added, according to WDVM-TV.
After his comments, Ian Serotkin, another board member, encouraged Morse to speak to “more of our gay and transgender students.”
“You seem to imply that bullying or discrimination against LGBTQ students in LCPS is a thing of the past and doesn’t happen today,” said Serotkin. “If you believe that I’d encourage you to speak to more of our gay and transgender students.”
Supporters of the policy celebrated its passage.
“I think that they have spent years fighting through these issues and fighting through the discrimination, the harassment, the bullying, and this is going to be an opportunity for them to rise up out of that and into a school year that is going to fully embrace them,” said Chris Candice Tuck, Equality Loudoun President. “It’s going to allow them to learn at their fullest potential.”
Wednesday’s meeting was sparsely attended — a contrast with the board meeting Tuesday when parking lot rallies were held and a public comment period went over four hours. Nearly 200 people came inside to speak.
The meeting length prompted the school board to postpone its decision until Wednesday.
Tuesday’s meeting came just a few months after physical education teacher Tanner Cross denounced the policies. Cross told the school board he wouldn’t “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion. It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”
His subsequent suspension and lawsuit poured fuel onto an already fiery debate over free speech and identity in one of the nation’s wealthiest counties, located about miles 35 miles west of Washington D.C.
Ryan Mooney, who identified as a former LCPS student, had recounted his own alleged molestation. He was worried the new policy would create loopholes for further abuse
“I don’t want the sexual predators to slip through the cracks, or [inaudible] these loopholes and these policies provide,” Mooney said.
Hundreds of people also attended a meeting in June when the board considered the proposal publicly for the first time. The board’s chair cut short public comment when parents refused to quiet down.
At least one person was arrested during that meeting.
Fox News’ Sam Dorman and The Associated Press contributed to this report