FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Parents across the country are waiting to see how president-elect Donald Trump's administration will handle gender identity initiatives in schools nationwide.
Fairfax County Public Schools was on the brink of allowing transgender students to use locker rooms, bathrooms and more based on their gender identity. That plan was halted after massive pushback from parents and lawsuits across the state and country. Now, it could be on pause indefinitely.
Several school board meetings were held earlier this year where parents resisted implementation of new guidelines to accommodate transgender students. At times, explosive shouting matches broke out.
The issue took center stage in May when the Obama administration released a mandate requiring public schools to allow transgender students access to facilities based on their gender identity.
Fairfax County School Board member Elizabeth Schultz said a gender identity policy implementation could remain on hold under a Trump administration based on Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.
"It's clear that her focus is on academic achievement, which really one would hope that education centers upon,” Schultz said. “There hasn't been much of an indication that this is a passion of hers to implement this kind of social realigning of education systems.”
She added, “I anticipate that this is not going to be their focus, they are going to return to children’s education and academic achievement and take this kind of social reengineering out of the realm of federal policy.”
On Tuesday, parents on both sides of this debate had plenty to say about this at a school board meeting even though the topic wasn't even on the agenda.
All but two of the public speakers spoke on concerns about how Fairfax County Public Schools will handle transgender students using school facilities based on their gender identity. Those speakers opposed implementation of any policy to allow transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities.
“Everything I have seen suggest that they are not going to be supporting that and I hope that school boards across the country can hold the line,” said parent Tamara Harvey. “I'm very in favor of supporting transgender kids and I think that schools are there to teach people, there to teach children and policing gender identity – it goes against everything I believe in.”
“My hope is that the new Trump administration will slow this very new social topic that seems to have just leapt upon us,” said teacher Eric Davenport. “It reflects a very tiny minority of people and it's just not something that needs to be emphasized as much as it has been and the public needs time to digest it and come to some consensus about it.”
A Trump administration likely means parents could have just that – time before any wholesale changes take place.
We have learned Fairfax County Public Schools has decided to hold off on making any decisions concerning the topic pending the outcome of several lawsuits across the state.