HANOVER, Va. (WRIC) — The Hanover County School Board voted Tuesday night to formally take legal advice from a conservative christian legal group on the school division’s policy towards transgender students.
Hanover has come under fire in recent months for refusing to incorporate a policy protecting transgender students, despite state policy requiring them to do so.
The county now faces a lawsuit from several Hanover parents of transgender students, who say the lack of a clear policy has done real harm to their children.
Now, the county is taking advice from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative christian legal foundation.
8News reached out to the ADF for comment, but they declined our request.
The vote to accept assistance from the ADF passed by a narrow 4-3 margin. Board members John F. Axselle III, Robert J. May, George E. Sutton and Steven Ikenberry voted to accept the groups help, while board members Sterling H. Daniel, Robert L. Hundley, Jr. and Ola J. Hawkins voted against the resolution.
“I think we’ve had sufficient guidance on legal issues from our wise counsel on the board,” one dissenting member said. “So I don’t see any need to pursue this.”
After the vote, the ACLU of Virginia, which currently represents the parents of transgender children suing Hanover, put out a statement on Twitter calling the ADF a “hate group.”
“We’re horrified that the Hanover County School Board voted to work with a hate group to review its policies on the treatment of transgender students,” they wrote. “This will undoubtedly harm trans students in Hanover who just want to feel safe & respected at school.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which documented statements spanning two decades from the organization’s leaders, the group supports the criminalization of homosexuality, called same-sex marriage a “degradation of our human dignity” and opposes discrimination protections for transgender people.
The ADF was previously involved in a lawsuit to overturn a Virginia law protecting residents from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The group also represented a Tennessee adoption agency that refused to allow a Jewish couple to adopt, citing their religious beliefs as Christians.