HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- A school board controversy over state-mandated transgender and equity policies in Hanover County is continuing to draw dozens of concerned citizens to advocate at county meetings.
Citizens have come out to both school board and board of supervisors' meetings for the last several months to voice concerns on both sides of the aisles, despite leaders not putting it as a talking point on the agenda for most meetings.
The same happened at Tuesday’s school board meeting. While people on both sides had a lot to say, the school leaders didn’t. The Hanover School Board spoke just two words, saying "thank you," following more than an hour of passionate public comment.
It’s all surrounding the school board’s decision to not adopt the 2020 law that allows non-binary or transgender students to use the bathroom or locker room they identify with.
Cheryl Perry, a Hanover parent, asked the board why they are refusing to adopt the policy. She stated that some transgender kids are being granted permission to use the bathroom they identify with, and others are not.
“There are students risking their health holding their bladders. If you’re concerned with safety, the lack of policy is what is dangerous,” she said.
Another Hanover parent, Rebecca Messe, showed up to tell the board she and many other parents support the board’s decisions.
“Parental rights are constitutionally protected and upheld by Virginia state law,” she argued.
Controversy also continued with a recent board decision to consult with the Alliance Defending Freedom, as the district decided to have them review the district's equity policy. The district is currently facing a lawsuit pertaining to the equity policy.
Grace Zweckbronner, a Hanover Student, was one of many who took issue with the board choosing the ADF.
“You as the school board of Hanover County are supposed to represent all students. If that is the case, I want to know why you are engaging the ADF,” she said.
She went on to state how the ADF is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center based on their stances toward the LBGTQ community. According to its website, the ADF calls itself an organization that protects religious freedom, free speech and parental rights.
Some of the meeting's attendees, like parent Sara Via, showed up to let the board know they support them using the ADF.
“This board should rightly engage any firm they see fit. The fact that ADF is providing their services for free is a huge factor,” she said.
CBS 6 reached out to the district to get emails between the district and the ADF. The district denied the request citing attorney-client privilege.
After no discussion on the matter at the meeting, CBS 6 asked where matters stand and if the board will consider a second opinion. The board chairwoman said she could not comment because of ongoing legal matters.
At the meeting, the school board also talked about considering modifying their public comment rules. They said doing so may allow them to plan better for the meetings and they are considering limiting sign-ups to stop at noon on the day of the meeting.
The school board is also considering an item that would allow them to move the venue three days in advance of the meeting.