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Week of action planned in response to Hanover's transgender policy

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Posted at 11:24 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 07:54:31-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- A week of action is now set in response to the continued controversy over the Hanover School Board’s actions toward transgender policies.

Agencies across Virginia are working to advocate on behalf of transgender students in Hanover County. They feel the school district is not following or adopting policies to protect nonbinary or transgender students.

Those upset also point at a recent decision by the school board to allow the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to offer a free legal review of the school district’s policy.

Some community members and organizations came together on Wednesday to discuss how to move forward.

“I want my kids to have the same basic rights as everyone else,” Anne, a Hanover parent, said.

A similar sentiment was shared by another Hanover parent, while a Hanover student expressed the desire for the school to have better transgender policies to protect students.

This all comes after the school board voted last week to bring in an outside agency to review its current equal education policy. It’s a policy that right now goes against a 2020 Virginia law that gives protections to students to use the restroom and locker room with the gender they identify.

This group takes issue with both the policy not being adopted and the outside consultation from the ADF.

The ADF calls itself an organization that protects religious freedom, free speech, marriage, and family. However, other groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, have labeled the ADF as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group.

“Engaging a group like ADF is not the answer when there are experts on the issue," Monique Gillium a representative from the ACLU, said. "Experts gathered to create a policy for model students to adopt. Yet Hanover failed to engage any of those experts."

Kimberly Thurston, another Hanover mom who spoke with CBS 6, expressed her support for the board's decision.

“[The ADF does] amazing work defending our First Amendment rights. I was pleased to see them brought in at no cost to taxpayers,” Thurston said.

It’s not clear why the board brought in this specific agency for legal review of the policy. The school board chairman did not get back to CBS 6 when asked why.

However, the board is currently facing a state lawsuit from the Virginia Chapter of the ACLU that stems from the lack of policy adoption.

The ACLU also sent them a letter threatening federal action for the same reason.

“All children deserve a safe learning environment where they can thrive,” Gillium said.

Now, the effort is ramping up by these organizations. They say they’re turning their anger into action with a planned week of events. It’s a week of teaching people how to advocate, making calls to leadership, and emailing the board of supervisors.

They want to put pressure on Hanover leaders.

“We want to make sure they are appointing school board members that will think of all students when passing policy,” said Narissa Rahaman of Equality Virginia.

CBS 6 did reach out to the board who said they could not comment on this event due to a pending lawsuit.

The group said they plan to finish their week of action by marching in solidarity together to the Hanover Board of Supervisor meeting next Wednesday where they plan to speak during public comment.

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