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Fairfax County Public Schools

Fairfax County Public Schools could require parental notifications for class materials deemed sexually explicit, but in a deviation from the state, the proposed policy directly addresses concerns about censorship, specifically for LGBTQ-related content.

Introduced at the Fairfax County School Board meeting last night, the policy requires teachers to maintain lists of books, videos, and other instructional materials with “sexually explicit content.” Schools must notify parents at least 30 days before the materials are used and provide alternatives if sought by a parent or student.

“Schools shall defer to parents to determine whether the use of an instructional material with sexually explicit content is appropriate for their child,” the policy states.

As noted by staff, FCPS already has a policy and regulations governing selections of print and electronic materials, including guidance for notifying parents and fulfilling requests for access to the materials or alternatives.

The draft policy generally incorporates a model developed by the Virginia Department of Education, as dictated by Senate Bill 656, which requires school boards to adopt rules specifically for sexually explicit content by Jan. 1, 2023. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on April 6.

However, FCPS has added one clause stating that:

This policy shall not be construed to require or provide for (1) the censoring of books in public elementary and secondary schools, or (2) the designation of instructional material as sexually explicit based solely upon the sexual orientation of the characters contained therein.

The school system told FFXnow it has no comment on the proposal “at this stage,” but the clause seems intended to quell fears that the new requirements could be used to limit access to materials that feature or deal with issues related to LGBTQ people.

Unveiled in early August, the VDOE model policy defines “sexually explicit content” in accordance with the state code:

(i) any description of or (ii) any picture, photograph, drawing, motion picture film, digital image or similar visual representation depicting sexual bestiality, a lewd exhibition of nudity, as nudity is defined in § 18.2-390, sexual excitement, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse, as also defined in § 18.2-390, coprophilia, urophilia, or fetishism.

Virginia Code section 18.2-390 includes “homosexuality” in its definition of sexual conduct, raising concerns that LGBTQ people will be treated as inherently sexual and not suitable for students. The 1,750 public comments submitted on the policy also included praise for it as a step forward for “parental rights.”

The Pride Liberation Project, a student-led advocacy group that started in Fairfax County, was among the critics of the state-proposed policy, but the language added by FCPS has eased its concerns.

“We are grateful to see FCPS clarify that our existence is not sexually explicit,” the group told FFXnow. “Nothing about our existence as Queer students is inherently sexual, but SB 656 threatens to mislabel our community. We hope other school districts follow FCPS’ lead and protect the limited Queer representation in our classrooms from censorship attacks.”

Still, the proposed FCPS policy doesn’t go as far as ones adopted by neighboring districts in warding off potential attacks on LGBTQ materials.

Loudoun County’s school board approved a policy on Wednesday (Nov. 30) that protects materials based on the gender identity of characters, as well as sexual orientation. A policy that went before the Arlington school board last night removes references to section 18.2-390 from its definition of “sexually explicit content.”

FCPS faced questions about material selection last year, when parents complained that there was graphic sexual content in the novel “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison and Maia Kobabe’s memoir “Gender Queer,” which both have LGBTQ protagonists.

Initially pulled from library shelves, the books were restored after review committees determined the claims were unfounded and that their literary merits justified making them accessible to students.

A decade-old fight over Toni Morrison’s classic “Beloved” also became a talking point in Youngkin’s 2021 campaign to become governor. Legislation inspired by that attempted book ban got vetoed in 2016 but served as a precursor for the new state law.

FCPS Pride, an LGBTQ advocacy group for employees, expressed concern that teachers will “self-censor” material out of fear of complaints or harassment.

“No good can come from reducing our curriculum to a few books that make absolutely nobody uncomfortable,” FCPS Pride said in a statement. “Our hope is that, after enacting this policy, FCPS will take legal action on behalf of the right of all students to an education that includes and welcomes them.”

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Students at West Potomac High School walked out in September to protest Virginia’s proposed policies on the treatment of transgender students (photo courtesy of Mara Surovell)

(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) The Virginia Department of Education has no clear timeline for when its new policies on the treatment of transgender students will take effect, leaving Fairfax County Public Schools and other local school districts waiting to see if the state makes any changes in response to vocal opposition to the proposal.

It has now been over a month since the state closed its public comment period for the draft “model” policies, which would require schools to identify students based on their sex assigned at birth and prohibit discipline for deadnaming or misgendering a student even if they get their official school records changed.

“The model policies document has not been finalized. The department is still in the process of reviewing public comment,” VDOE communications director Charles Pyle told FFXnow.

The department received more than 71,000 comments on the policies — some supportive, some critical — while the forum was open from Sept. 26 to Oct. 26.

The policies could’ve taken effect as soon as the comment period ended, but the VDOE said last month that the implementation would be delayed by 30 days under a state code provision that requires a delay if a guidance document might contradict state law.

Opponents of the proposed policies have argued that they would violate the Virginia Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. A section on student participation in athletics also goes against the state law that directed VDOE to create the model policies, which explicitly excluded sports from consideration.

Though the additional 30-day deadline has now passed, Pyle says VDOE has no sense of when its public comments review might finish, citing the volume of comments. The department’s staff can make revisions to the draft guidelines, which must be approved by the state superintendent.

“We have more than 71,000 comments to sort through and the department is exploring options for completing the review,” Pyle said in a statement. “Even after the comments are reviewed, the department will take the time necessary to identify and make any edits identified and warranted by the review.”

The Fairfax County School Board has indicated it won’t adopt the model policies, which contradict its existing policies supporting LGBT students. The Board of Supervisors issued a formal statement opposing them, arguing that they would defy legal precedent and harm transgender and other gender-nonconforming students.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has championed the policies as “protecting parents’ fundamental rights to make decisions for their children,” will be in Fairfax County tomorrow to celebrate last week’s opening of the extended I-66 Express Lanes.

According to a media advisory, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay will also attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Fairfax Corner, but no policy discussions are expected between the Democratic chair and Republican governor.

“We are guessing the Governor is already well aware of Chairman McKay’s on-the-record staunch opposition to the proposed change in model policies and its impact on Fairfax County families,” McKay’s office said.

After the ribbon-cutting, Youngkin is scheduled to appear in Arlington for an unspecified economic development announcement.

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Springfield District School Board Representative Laura Jane Cohen is running for Virginia’s newly created 15th House District (via Laura Jane Cohen)

A current Fairfax County School Board member is running for the newly created 15th District in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Laura Jane Cohen announced her candidacy yesterday — a day after Election Day. Her announcement couched her candidacy as an effort to stand up to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the “far right,” citing a desire to defend public education, reproductive freedom, voting rights and gun violence prevention.

“I have been incredibly fortunate to live, work, and raise my children here and I am excited to begin this journey to represent this amazing community in the Virginia House of Delegates,” Cohen wrote in a statement. “In my time on the School Board I’ve had the opportunity to prove my grit and resolve in protecting and fighting for our families and I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving our community and our Commonwealth.”

Cohen was elected to represent the Springfield District on the school board in 2019, unseating two-term Republican incumbent Elizabeth Schultz, who now serves as assistant superintendent of public instruction in Youngkin’s administration.

A graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in political science, she moved to Fairfax County in 2001, when she worked as an advocate on Capitol Hill for national nonprofit disease organizations.

At the time, she was the director of outreach for a national Parkinson’s nonprofit organization, according to Fairfax County Public Schools. She then worked as a preschool teacher after having two kids and later joined FCPS as a long-term substitute. She also ran a small business in Clifton before joining the school board.

While on the school board, Cohen has said she’s faced threats and harassment, particularly when she talks about gun violence prevention and her support for the LGTBQ community. A recall petition filed against her by the Open FCPS Coalition, which opposed school closures due to COVID-19, was dismissed in February.

The new 15th House District is one of three created by the Virginia Redistricting Commission last year and includes Burke and parts of Fairfax. It incorporates portions of the Springfield and Braddock magisterial districts.

No other candidates have formally declared their candidacy for the new district.

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Annandale High School (via Google Maps)

For the first time, the Fairfax County School Board has approved a contract to install rooftop solar panels on a school building, a move both board members and advocates said has been a long time coming.

Under a solar power purchase agreement (PPA) that the board authorized Thursday (Nov. 3), Annandale High School will receive solar panels as a pilot program to give Fairfax County Public Schools “a working knowledge of these installations,” Mason District Representative Ricardy Anderson said before the vote.

While FCPS has 10 schools with solar panels, those serve more as educational tools than power sources. Coupled with the recent addition of electric school buses, the Annandale project represents a notable step in the school system’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and adopt renewable energy.

“Moving this pilot forward and committing to its expansion across the entire school division is an essential part of meeting the board’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2040,” Providence District Representative Karl Frisch said. “…To address the climate crisis, every level of government must act. Tonight’s vote is further proof that our board is committed to doing that.”

After conducting a physical inspection of Annandale High, vendor Ipsun Solar will begin the panel installation sometime in late 2023 or early 2024, an FCPS spokesperson told FFXnow. A follow-up inquiry about that timeline didn’t get a response by press time.

FCPS is also working to advance projects at Chantilly High School, Thoreau Middle School, Hayfield and Robinson secondary schools, and Terreset and Mason Crest elementary schools before the end of this year, according to Frisch and Anderson.

“Schools were selected by the vendors based on a number of categories that contribute to the campus’ overall solar viability. These categories included the roof type, the roof age and solar generation capacity,” Anderson said, noting that Annandale High was proposed as the pilot site “because of its high solar generation potential.”

The approval comes more than a year after the school board agreed to advance a solar program in May 2021 and almost three years after Fairfax County launched its solar PPA initiative in December 2019.

Touting the initiative as the largest undertaken by a locality in Virginia, the county awarded contracts to three different vendors to bring rooftop- and canopy-mounted solar panels to an initial slate of 113 sites, including 87 school buildings.

In a power purchase agreement, the solar provider owns the panels and is responsible for the installation, operation, and maintenance costs. The buyer — in this case, FCPS — carries no upfront costs but must still pay the provider and Dominion Energy or another utility for the electricity.

For Annandale High, Ipsun will charge $0.102 per kilowatt hour for the electricity generated over a 25-year period, with the rate increasing 2% annually after five years of operations. FCPS estimates that the payments will total about $2.2 million, saving it between $11,000 and $22,000 in energy costs per year, on average.

“They’re going to save a lot of money on this one school over the life of the contract. Now, multiply that over, you know, the next hundred schools, and we’re saving a lot of taxpayer dollars,” said Susan Stillman, an at-large executive committee member for Sierra Club Virginia.

Multiple school board members praised Stillman and Solar on Our Schools — a student advocacy group formed by James Madison High School students with Stillman’s support in 2015 — for pushing FCPS to pursue solar energy projects.

The school system’s first solar PPA contract took longer to arrive than hoped, largely due to conflicts that led the county to terminate its contract with original rooftop vendor Sigora Solar, but Stillman says she’s now “just excited that they’re going to get started.”

She and fellow environmental advocate Scott Peterson, the co-founder and vice chair of Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, both credited Superintendent Michelle Reid and acting Assistant Superintendent for Transportation and Facilities Chuck Fanshaw for breaking “the logjam” to make the agreement happen.

“This shows the public and students, who are going to have to live in a climate-changed world, that FCPS cares about the young people that they’re educating,” Stillman said.

Photo via Google Maps

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The school board adopted a resolution on inclusive education — without the word equity (file photo).

The Fairfax County School Board passed a resolution on inclusive education at its meeting Thursday (Oct. 20), leaving aside an earlier version that  included references to social justice, equity and antiracism.

The 7-4 vote came with much back and forth about topics including board procedure and the resolution’s timeline.

The four members who voted against the amended resolution — Mason District Representative Ricardy Anderson, Hunter Mill District Representative Melanie Meren and members-at-large Abrar Omeish and Karen Keys-Gamarra — had expressed support for its original iteration. Providence District Representative Karl Frisch was not at the meeting.

As passed, the resolution affirms the county’s support for teachers and administrators when it comes to “inclusive curriculum and instruction.” The resolution is symbolic and does not change county policy.

“….the School Board commits to protect and support teachers and administrators as they deliver FCPS-approved curriculum and classroom resources that are inclusive, and meet the high aspirations of our students, families, and the Fairfax County community.”

Amendments also left out a reference to “recent events” that have “caused many FCPS educators and school-based administrators to fear that implementing these necessary curricular improvements could lead to personal or professional harm,” according to the text of the original resolution.

Anderson, who introduced the original resolution, said the amended version would not adequately support teachers and cited the removal of the words truth, antiracist, equity and justice as among the reasons she would not support it.

“There are some essential components that are missing from the version being provided that I just cannot support not including in this kind of resolution,” she said.

The school board’s student representative, Michele Togbe, opposed the amendments.

“Amending it to the weak and hollow statements and words, where originally it was strong and clear, it doesn’t make sense to me, and I don’t see the progress that can be made by going forward with it,” Togbe said.

Dranesville District Representative Elaine Tholen, who brought the amendment with Braddock District Representative Megan McLaughlin, said she believed the amended version was “more inclusive of our board member views and less divisive for our broad community.”

Tholen added that she thought the message of support for educators should have been conveyed with “a simple statement,” but maintained the resolution format.

While the resolution is symbolic, the board has a controversial issues policy that outlines guidelines for administrators, teachers and students dealing with controversial topics. That policy, mentioned in the amended resolution, has been discussed at multiple governance committee meetings this calendar year, according to minutes from those meetings.

After the revision passed, several people spoke about the resolution during the community participation portion of the meeting. These included representatives from Free and Antiracist Minds (FAM) and the Fairfax County Council PTA, two of the many advocacy organizations Anderson said had been involved with the original resolution.

The amended resolution “was a great way of not having to vote no but also completely undermining the substance of the actual message,” said Kweli Zukeri, representing FAM. FAM called the vote a “craven display of systemic racism” in an Oct. 21 press release.

In a video testimony, Kara Danner, a member of the FCCPTA’s executive board, said the organization supported the original resolution for the sake of students’ mental health.

Other speakers accused the board of having political motivations and questioned its priorities.

Board chair and member-at-large Rachna Sizemore Heizer said she was glad to have the resolution to support teachers, but looked ahead before adjourning the meeting.

“At the end of the day I’m excited to get into budget season and looking at our strategic plan, because that’s really where we show our values,” she said.

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Students wear and wave Pride flags at Fairfax High School’s walkout (photo by Carys Owens)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is formally opposing Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed model policies that would limit the rights of transgender and other gender-nonconforming students.

In a letter approved at a board meeting today (Tuesday), board chairman Jeff McKay said that the policies would have a negative effect on the county’s economic position and cites the human impact on students. Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity voted against the proposal.

“Your model policies – and the discrimination inherent to them – will have a chilling effect on our continued ability to attract the world’s most innovative companies to Fairfax County. To put it bluntly, discrimination is bad for business,” the letter, which is addressed to the Virginia Department of Education, states.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw noted that the proposal policy is contradicted by U.S. Supreme Court decisions and other legal precedent.

“Thankfully, many school system in the Commonwealth don’t intend to adopt them,” Walkinshaw said.

When voting against the proposal, Herrity questioned why the county was weighing in on a proposal related to the school system when other issues — like declining enrollment, learning loss, and the achievement gap — need exploration as well.

“My biggest problem with the letter, I don’t see any staff working on this at all,” Herrity said. He also said parents need to be involved in “critical decisions of this magnitude,” adding that parental permission to give a child an aspirin in schools.

McKay responded by stating that the board’s letter is part of the  state’s education department call for public comment on the proposal — a comment period that ends tomorrow.

His letter also says that the policies put the county’s children at risk by denying support and affirmation to transgender students.

“A young LGBTQ person attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the United States. Key drivers of high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among transgender youth are the lack of social support and affirming experiences that they often face,” the letter states.

The proposed policies are at odds with the school system’s current policies that affirm students’ rights to accessing restrooms based on their gender identity and being called by their chosen names and pronouns. FCPS moved to update its previous policy — last amended in 2020 — based on state recommendations.

A spokesperson told FFXnow that the school system did not have more information to share about its position on the state’s policies. FCPS Superintendent Michelle Reid sent to families last month, stating that FCPS was reviewing the draft policies.

This is not the first time McKay has publicly questioned the draft policy. Earlier this month, McKay told FFXnow that the school system may have legal grounds to go against the model policies.

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Transgender pride flag (via Alexander Grey/Unsplash)

The Fairfax County School Board reaffirmed its support for transgender students last week as community members spoke out against policies proposed by the state that would limit their rights.

At a meeting on Thursday (Oct. 6), members issued a statement reiterating Fairfax County Public School’s commitment to policies that “will continue supporting our transgender and gender-expansive students, staff, and families”:

The Fairfax County School Board understands that our LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and families are worried about the impact of Governor Youngkin’s proposed model policies for transgender and gender-expansive students. Nearly one in five transgender and non-binary youth attempted suicide in the last year. LGBTQIA+ youth who found their school to be affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide. It is necessary to ensure our school community is a place where all students can live without fear of prejudice, discrimination, harassment, or violence.

The statement followed walkouts in late September by thousands of students who opposed the draft policies from Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the Virginia Department of Education. Prior to the school board meeting, the LGBTQ staff advocacy group FCPS Pride led a protest in front of Luther Jackson Middle School.

Released on Sept. 16 and open for public comment through Oct. 26, the state’s draft policies direct schools to treat transgender and gender-expansive students according to their sex assigned at birth unless they present legal documentation of a change to their name or sex.

Even if a student changes their official school records, the policies say they must still use facilities based on their sex assigned at birth and prohibit schools from disciplining staff or students who misgender or deadname a student, citing free speech protections.

In its statement, the school board says FCPS will continue to adhere to its existing policy and regulation, which prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and promise acceptance of “a student or parent’s assertion of a student’s gender-expansive or transgender status.”

The policies allow students to use “a locker room or restroom consistent with the student’s gender identity,” which run opposed to the state’s new proposed policies.

When asked for a response to the school board’s statement, Youngkin’s office told FFXnow that the guidelines are not for the local school system to decide.

“Children belong to families not bureaucrats and school board members,” Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter wrote in an email. “Virginians spoke clearly last year and they continue to say that parents matter. Parents deserve to be involved in all critical discussions about their children. School boards should bring them into the conversation, not cut them out of it.”

Noting that most school districts in Virginia never adopted model policies under former governor Ralph Northam, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay told FFXnow last month that he believes the county would be on “safe legal ground” if FCPS sticks with its own policies. Read More

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Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 9:30 a.m. on 9/23/2022) With a new school year underway, students will soon jockey for seats in Fairfax County’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), even as a federal court considers whether its current admission system discriminates against Asians.

For now, thanks to an earlier ruling upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the upcoming class of 2027 will be determined by the same, much-debated process that has helped diversify the magnet school’s student body over the past two years, FCPS confirmed to FFXnow.

Launching at 4 p.m. on Oct. 24, freshman student applications will consist of a student portrait sheet and a math or science-focused problem-solving essay. Other criteria include a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and consideration of a student’s English language learner, special education, or free/reduced-price lunch status — known as “experience factors.”

Those experience factors and a guarantee that all participating schools get seats equal to 1.5% of their student population are central to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of policy, which was adopted by the Fairfax County School Board in December 2020.

The revised process — which eliminated a standardized test and application fee — doesn’t explicitly consider race when evaluating students, but a lawyer for the Coalition for TJ argued to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Friday (Sept. 16) that it was designed to boost Black and Latino representation at the expense of Asian applicants.

(Correction: This article previously said oral arguments had taken place on Saturday, Sept. 17)

“That’s clear in the record from the statements that the board members and other senior staff in Fairfax County Public Schools made, that Asian American students were in the way,” Erin Wilcox said to the three-judge panel. “They needed to clear out room to increase the numbers of Black and Hispanic students.”

In February, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the Coalition for TJ, agreeing that the changes amounted to “racial balancing” in violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause, which prohibits laws from discriminating based on race.

FCPS promptly appealed the decision, maintaining that the policy is race-neutral, as stated in the school board’s adopted resolution, and backed by legal precedent. Donald Verrilli, the school board’s legal representative, cited a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that supported universities taking steps to diversify, ideally without directly looking at race.

“There are no quotas, no targets, no racial preferences of any kind, no racial classifications of any kind, and it is 100% race-blind in its administration,” he said. “No application contains any racially identifying information, so all applicants are judged on a race-blind basis.” Read More

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Transgender pride flag (via Alexander Grey/Unsplash)

(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) New draft policies that would limit schools’ ability to support transgender students are currently under review by Fairfax County Public Schools.

Unveiled Friday afternoon (Sept. 16), the Virginia Department of Education’s proposed 2022 model policies directs schools to defer to parents in determining accommodations for LGBTQ students, including the names and pronouns staff can use for them.

“The 2022 model policy posted delivers on the governor’s commitment to preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students,” Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, said in a statement. “It is not under a school’s or the government’s purview to impose a set of particular ideological beliefs on all students.”

If the policies take effect, staff must refer to students by the name and sex on their official school records or a “commonly associated” nickname. To change their official records, a student or parent must provide legal documentation, such as a birth certificate, passport, a state or federal identification or court order, supporting the change.

Even with a records change, though, schools can’t require staff and other students “to address or refer to students in any manner that would violate their constitutionally protected rights,” suggesting misgendering and deadnaming will be permissible despite state prohibitions against discrimination and harassment, including based on gender identity.

Under the draft policies, bathroom usage and participation in athletics and other activities must be based on students’ sex as assigned at birth, though “single-user” facilities are supposed to be “made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage” indicating universal accessibility.

The guidelines reverse model policies that the state education department released last year and contradict FCPS’ regulation supporting equity for transgender and gender-expansive students — a policy that Youngkin specifically criticized late last month.

“I understand the concerns that our LGBTQIA+ staff, student, and family community have about what this change of direction by the state may mean for our school division,” Superintendent Michelle Reid said in a message sent to families yesterday (Sunday). “Please be assured that FCPS remains committed to an inclusive learning environment for each and every student and staff member and that our schools will continue to be safe and respectful learning spaces.”

FCPS is in the process of “thoroughly reviewing” the draft guidelines and will release “a more detailed response” soon, Reid said.

The draft policies “betray” a state law adopted in 2020 to protect transgender and queer students, who have become a frequent target of anti-LGBTQ legislation nationwide, says the Pride Liberation Project, an advocacy group of over 200 students.

Calling on the state to withdraw its proposed revisions, the LGBTQ student advocacy group argued that the model policies would require schools to out students, prevent students from expressing their gender identity, and enable parents to block their kids from accessing critical counseling services at a time of increased concern about students’ mental health.

“As a closeted student, I wouldn’t be able to come home if my parents found out that I was Queer. I am terrified that these draft regulations will take away one of the few places I can just be myself,” an anonymous Fairfax County student said in a press release.

The student-run group indicated that it will be active at school board meetings in the coming weeks.

“We are committed to making sure FCPS maintains a caring climate and culture where each and every student, staff member, and family is welcomed, respected, valued, and supported,” Fairfax County School Board Chair Rachna Sizemore-Heizer said by email to FFXnow. “This includes our LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and families. FCPS is reviewing the model policy that was released late Friday and will provide additional comments soon.”

Multiple school board members promised on social media that FCPS will continue to support LGBTQ students. Read More

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Morning Notes

Sunlight shines through trees in Reston (photo by Terry Baranski)

D.C. Area Sees Rise in Teacher Resignations –“Resignations spiked enormously at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year in D.C. Public Schools and in several Northern Virginia districts, including Fairfax County…Educators say the reasons for resigning vary. But some cite the difficulty teachers faced readjusting students, many of whom had grown accustomed to pandemic-era remote education, to in-classroom learning this past year.” [The Washington Post]

Police Chief Addresses Gun-Pointing Incident — The Fairfax County Police Department released body camera footage on Friday (July 15) of officers pointing their guns at a person who was filming them outside a West Falls Church IHOP. Chief Kevin Davis said he understands “the anxiety that folks in the community have after seeing this video go viral” but defended the officers’ actions. [WTOP]

Fairfax County Among Wealthiest Counties in U.S. — “A five-year survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau looked at median household income to determine the wealthiest counties in the country…With a median household income of $127,866, Fairfax County arrives on the list at number five.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Staffing Challenges Affect County Trash Pickups — “Fairfax County residents have been experiencing trash pickup delays for several months, but Dave Lyons, director of the Fairfax Workers Coalition, said he wants them to know that’s not only because of the pandemic or the strained labor market.” [Fairfax County Times]

Vienna Resident Says No to Leaf Blowers — “Vienna could be more pleasant, family friendly and healthier if the town banned the use of cosmetic lawn chemicals and noisy gas-powered leaf blowers, resident Avril Garland told the Town Council July 11. Both of those policies already have been implemented in Montgomery County, Md., said Garland” [Sun Gazette]

Vienna Considers Removing Church Spire — “Church steeples add interest and variety to Vienna’s skyline, but the one at the former Faith Baptist Church likely will be coming down. The Vienna Town Council at its Aug. 29 meeting will consider a proposal to remove the spire at the former church.” [Sun Gazette]

Reston Woman Made Disguises for CIA — “A 27-year veteran of the U.S. intelligence community, [Jonna] Mendez unmasks the secrets of how she helped transform the CIA in her new memoir, titled ‘In True Face,’ available early next year. Mendez, now 77, developed shockingly realistic methods for instantly changing appearances, carrying concealed cameras, and protecting operatives in the field.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

School Board Selects New Chair — “The Fairfax County School Board has elected Rachna Sizemore Heizer (Member-at-Large) as chair and Tamara Derenak Kaufax (Franconia District Representative) as vice chair for a one-year term. The chair and vice chair assumed office at the July 14 School Board meeting” [FCPS]

Huntington Affordable Housing Apartments Now Leasing — “The Arden — a 126-unit affordable housing community developed, owned, and operated by Wesley Housing — is nearing completion and leasing activities have just begun! Apartment homes at The Arden will be available for applicants earning between 40 and 80 percent of the Area Median Income.” [Housing and Community Development]

See Fairfax County Police Officers Rescue Man From Smoke — “Our officers do amazing work every day. Watch as two officers from our Franconia District Station save a man trapped in a smoked-filled apartment.” [FCPD/Twitter]

It’s Monday — Rain in the evening. High of 85 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:33 pm. [Weather.gov]

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