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Virginia's Loudoun County School Board silences public comment after raucous meeting, 2 men arrested

FOX News logo FOX News 6/22/2021 Michael Ruiz

The embattled school board of Virginia’s Loudoun County cut off public comment during a fiery meeting Tuesday as residents traded barbs over new transgender policy proposals Tuesday following weeks of protests from district parents opposed to some of the measures, which they have criticized as potential left-wing indoctrination and a violation of parental rights.

The policies affect transgender student rights, privacy and restroom accommodations and would require Loudoun County Public Schools employees to use students’ preferred names or pronouns. An official school board vote on the proposal is not expected until at least Aug. 10.

But it has become a hot-button issue in the district, where 259 residents signed up to speak during the public comment session Tuesday and people lining up at the doors early to get seats in the packed auditorium.

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The first half-dozen speakers were in support of policy proposal 8040, but fireworks erupted when the seventh, who identified herself as the mother of a transgender Loudoun student, was booed after saying "hate" was "dripping from the followers of Jesus in this room" – a swipe at Christian parents in the district who have argued that transgender discussions should be held at home and not in public school.

The board called a 5-minute recess to let things cool off.

After the recess, board chair Brenda Sheridan said members had voted unanimously to end public comment if the room erupted again.

"The board is here to hear from everyone," she said. "We started our meeting early bc we knew we would have a large crowd and we had a large agenda. We ask again that you respect each other, and everyone is allowed to speak."

Residents approached the podium to weigh in on both sides of the transgender proposal – but others brought up several other high-profile incidents in the community.

Multiple parents asked the district to drop its appeal of a court order to reinstate teacher Tanner Cross, who was suspended after speaking out publicly against the proposal. They argued that fighting the judge is a waste of taxpayers' money and doomed to fail. 


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Another woman urged several board members, facing a recall effort, to resign and save taxpayers even more money. Others blasted a district official who allegedly made threatening Internet searches on a district smartphone.

Former state Sen. Dick Black, a Republican, excoriated the board over its treatment of Cross and allegations that progressive community members had organized a list of their conservative neighbors to harass and publicly shame. The chamber erupted in cheers, prompting the board to vote 9-0 to end public comment for the rest of the meeting – which led to loud chants of "Shame on you" directed at the board and demands that members resign.

The large number of conservative parents in the room began singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" as board members filed out.

At least two people were arrested as parents cut off from speaking before the board remained in the room to deliver their prepared remarks to others in the crowd. One of them refused to leave until everyone had an opportunity to speak, and deputies told him that he would be arrested for trespassing if he refused to follow their orders to vacate the room.

The first man was issued a trespassing summons and released, a Loudoun County Sheriff's Office spokesperson told Fox News Tuesday evening. The second allegedly "was acting disorderly and displayed aggressive behavior towards another attendee."

"A second adult male was acting disorderly and displayed aggressive behavior towards another attendee," the spokesperson said. "A deputy intervened and the subject continued to be disorderly with the deputy. LCSO Deputies attempted to take him into custody and he physically resisted arrest. The subject was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest."

Parents with the group Fight For Schools, which is working to recall a number of school board members, rallied against the proposal Monday night and again before and during the meeting Tuesday.

Ian Prior, a spokesman for the group and father of two Loudoun students who is also a former Justice Department official, said during the Monday rally that the Loudoun County School Board is refusing to give parents a seat at the table when it comes to how their kids are educated on controversial topics, including transgender issues and critical race theory.

"And that is the ultimate mission here is, it's something that starts here and spreads across the country, where parents get a seat at the table," he said. "Whether it's an association or organization, something where they have some kind of power to shape the future of education in their own towns."

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The board meeting comes days after the district confined a Christian student to a small room during schoolwide periods of transgender-themed lessons that his family had objected to based on their faith – and after a court ordered the district to reinstate a suspended phys ed teacher who spoke out against the proposed new transgender policy at a board meeting last month.

259 people signed up for public comments.  Only 51 voices were heard.  

Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

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