LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Loudoun County Schools has approved a new policy expanding the rights of transgender students. It's been a heated topic for parents, students and teachers for weeks.
On Wednesday, Aug. 11, the Board approved Policy 8040 by a vote of 7-2 after minor amendments were made.
Policy 8040 will allow transgender students to use restrooms, locker rooms and be called by names that correspond with their gender identity.
Ultimately the school board followed the guidance set by the Virginia Department of Education. However, there are no penalties if school districts don't create a policy.
In a statement, Loudoun County Public Schools said "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. 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."
The policy grew controversial when an elementary school gym teacher Tanner Cross said he would not follow it several weeks ago.
Cross sued the school board after he was fired for refusing to use students’ preferred pronouns saying it was against his religion to do so. He has been reinstated per a court order, but the board says they are appealing that decision.
Supporters of the Loudoun County School Board's policy that expands the rights of transgender students rose in celebration of its passage Wednesday.
"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."
Parents, community members, and board members expressed support and opposition.
"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," School Board Member Jeffrey Morse said.
After the school board passed the policy, State Senator Jennifer Boysko--who sponsored the law that requires it--encouraged anyone still opposed to learning more about transgender children and families.
"I think they should get to know some families who are dealing with this, talking to the students themselves, talking to the families themselves," Sen. Boysko said. "We made sure to incorporate people who are actually living and breathing this every single day."
Recent court cases have backed policies allowing transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity. The Supreme Court chose not to hear an appeal to the case that sets precedent for this region.