LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - A culture battle is underway in Loudoun County as the school board gets closer to making a decision on a proposed policy inclusive of transgender students in the public schools. The meeting was held under tight security tonight.
People began gathering outside the school building around 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. The severe weather in the area did not deter them and they made it clear that they wanted to be heard.
Large crowds were outside with only 10 people allowed in the building at one time.
Only one person was allowed in to address the school board at a time, with 150 people set to speak. The sheriff's office says those threats have not been deemed credible. They each got two minutes to speak, so the board will now vote on the policy tomorrow.
People were being wanded with metal detectors at the door--all after the last meeting on this subject grew unruly and led to an arrest. The measures are also in place after threats were made before the meeting and against school board members.
The policy being discussed--8040--would allow transgender students to use restrooms, locker rooms and be called by names that correspond with their gender identity.
"I wanted to take the time tonight as the first person of in-person public comment to say thank you," one speaker said. "That I support Policy 8040 and I support our transgender students."
FOX 5 spoke to parents and students on both sides of this issue tonight.
"I'm here because I am a person of faith and I am supportive of the trans community and so I want to show that perspective, sort of in contrast to the conservative perspectives," Loudoun Alum April said.
Everyone showed up to make sure their voice was heard.
"Policy 8040 would, if I understand it correctly, completely annihilate sex-segregated spaces and we think that's a terrible problem for women and girls," said Kara Dansky, President of Women's Human Rights Campaign.
"I love all of the trans-students but parents, we need to come together and really have a conversation where you understand the issue is privacy for all students," parent Charlotte McConnell said.
The policy grew controversial when an elementary school gym teacher Tanner Cross said he would not follow it several weeks ago.
"The proposed transgender changes interfere with this parent-child relationship as school personnel are forced to affirm a child’s transgender identity at school without parental consent and identification," another speaker said.
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.
Some parents came out in support of Cross.
"Reinstate Tanner Cross," Loudoun alum Charles said. "He's been reinstated and I think the school board should uphold that decision."
The policy is likely to pass. Virginia law requires this kind of policy to be instituted by school districts but doesn't provide for penalties if it's not followed. Parents also spoke out about their views on critical race theory and against Loudoun County Schools' decision to require masks.