FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Just weeks after elected leaders in western Virginia voted to protect LBGT employees from discrimination, they’ve changed course and rescinded their policy.
In July, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors unanimously decided to extend the county’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy to LBGT county employees. Then last week, they voted 6-1 to rescind the change, as first reported by the Winchester Star. Turns out, opposition from a Virginia state delegate was a major factor.
“It was a surprise to me that suddenly we were voting to rescind the policy,” said Supervisor Shannon Trout, who represents the Shawnee district.
Trout said the item wasn’t on their agenda and there was no discussion. She said she remains fully supportive of giving new protections to LGBT county workers.
“I thought, ‘This is wonderful this is exactly what we need. This is where we should be moving forward,’” Trout said. “So I was pretty disappointed when we voted to rescind it, 6 to 1. I was the only one that said, ‘Why are we rescinding this policy?’”
Del. David LaRock (R-Hamilton) played a role. He tells FOX 5 he believes being gay is a choice and in an opinion piece, compared gays and “gender impersonators” to smokers.
“A whole variety of things, negative health outcomes, consequences are related to homosexual behavior,” LaRock said.
LaRock, who lives in Frederick County, said he doesn’t believe LGBT employees need to be specifically protected from discrimination. He said he contacted supervisors Blaine Dunn and Charles DeHaven to let them know the policy change could violate state law. Because Virginia doesn't specifically protect LGBT people from discrimination, LaRock maintains the county is overstepping its authority. He also argues the policy is unnecessary because he’s heard of no LGBT discrimination cases in Frederick County. LaRock said he doesn't believe the intentions of the policy are really about protecting gay workers.
“The fact that there was no incidents that occurred that brought about the policy would cause me to say, ‘No, that's not its purpose,’” he said. “It's purpose is to advance the LGBT agenda. To normalize behaviors that, quite frankly, many people disagree with.”
Trout said the issue is not dead yet, and the county will likely reconsider the idea after it’s re-looked at by staff. She said she “wholeheartedly” disagrees with LaRock’s stance.
“I think everybody deserves the same rights and protections, and everyone deserves not to have a workplace where they're discriminated against,” Trout said.
There are other Virginia counties and cities that have policies on the books specifically protecting LGBT employees from discrimination.