HANOVER, Va. (WRIC) — Students at one Hanover High School are preparing to walk out of class Friday to protest the school board’s decision to accept legal advice from an anti-LGBT organization.
The latest controversy comes as the county faces a lawsuit from several parents of transgender students over the school board’s failure to adopt trans-inclusive policies as required under state law.
At a community meeting on March 16 hosted by several groups opposed to the school board’s actions, parents spoke out about the harm they say the lack of clear policies on trans students does.
“I want my kid to have the same rights as everyone else – and they don’t currently,” said Ann Zweckbronner, one of the parents suing the school board.
Monique Gillum, an attorney with the Virginia ACLU (ACLUVA), said the board’s decision to work with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is “a culmination of the school board’s failure to adopt comprehensive policies.”
The ADF has been described by the ACLUVA as a hate group. In the past the organization has advocated for the criminalization of homosexuality and sought to overturn a law providing discrimination protections for LGBT Virginians.
The parents’ suit against the school board seeks to make them adopt a non-discrimination policy that protects trans students – something that’s been required under Virginia law since last September.
“It is the law in Hanover County,” Gillum said. “It is the law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Kelly Merrill, whose son came out 4 years ago, said the lack of a clear policy has made school more difficult for him, “He knows it’s not a policy, he doesn’t want to get in trouble.”
The issues go beyond access to bathrooms and formal recognition. One nonbinary student, a sophomore at Atlee High School, said something as simple as having their preferred name recognized was unnecessarily difficult.
“If it’s just a nickname, why do you need a ton of paperwork, why do you need a parent to sign off?” they said.
The ADF has declined 8News’ requests for comment.