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Across Fairfax County and Virginia, thousands of students walked out today (Tuesday) in protest of proposed state policies that would limit schools’ ability to support transgender and other gender-nonconforming students.

Students from more than 90 schools, including nearly 30 in Fairfax County, took a stand against policies introduced earlier this month by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin regulating everything from which bathroom a student can use to the definition of “the phrase ‘transgender student.'”

The walkout protests were organized by the Pride Liberation Project, a student-led organization that advocates for the LQBTQ+ community in schools. The group aims to persuade the governor to revoke the draft policies, which are now open for public comment through Oct. 26.

Since the policies were announced more than a week ago, local school districts, board members, and elected officials have questioned and overwhelmingly come out against policies that would severely curtail the rights of and support that school districts can give transgender students.

Fairfax County Public Schools said last week that it was “reviewing” the proposed policies and reiterated a commitment to supporting LGBTQ students.

Today, though, it was students’ turn to make their voices heard.

At West Potomac High School in Belle Haven, an estimated 1,000 students walked out at 10 a.m. in protest. They filed into bleachers on the football field, while speakers shared their experiences and why they personally would be affected by the new policies.

“As a trans [person], I have been discriminated against for my gender identity and was told it was wrong. That I was wrong,” said a West Potomac High School senior. “These policies are just a new case of this happening.”

“I can’t be a student if I don’t know what name my teacher is going to call me,” said another student.

Mara Surovell, one of the lead organizers for the West Potomac High School walkout, hopes it will encourage Youngkin to not implement the policies or, at the very least, allow school districts the authority to continue to implement their own guidance.

“Most of my friends are transgender and my sister is also transgender. So it affects all people I love. And I don’t want any of my friends to feel like school is an unsafe place,” Surovell told FFXnow. “I don’t want to see…their mental health plummet because of these policies, and I really just want them to feel safe and loved, and I don’t think that’ll happen if these policies get approved.”

Students involved in walkouts at South Lakes High School in Reston and Marshall High School in Idylwood shared similar thoughts.

Rishi Chandra, a South Lakes junior, said that he has personally seen how well trans and nonbinary students can do in school when they feel safe, but if the new policies get approved, they will “harm queer students.” Read More

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Morning Notes

People watch fireworks at Vienna’s 2022 Fourth of July celebration (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Springfield Motorcyclist Dies After Burke Crash — Becoming the sixth non-pedestrian killed in a vehicle crash this year, Nema Mirsaeedi, 31, of Springfield died yesterday after being thrown from his motorcycle in a crash with a car attempting to turn into a shopping center on Burke Center Parkway. The crash occurred at 6:39 p.m. on Sunday (July 3) and remains under investigation. [FCPD]

County Responds to Supreme Court Security Request — “Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley originally penned the letter, asking that state and local law enforce their respective picketing laws near the homes of Supreme Court justices…Fairfax County officials say they already received the letter and that their stance remained unchanged.” [WTOP]

FCPS Officially Has New Superintendent — “Michelle Reid, Ed.D. was sworn in as the superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools on Thursday, June 30, at Luther Jackson Middle School. Her term begins Friday, July 1. ‘It’s important for me to remember that learning happens best in community, and this is an amazing community,’ said Dr. Reid.” [FCPS]

Hiker Injured Falling Off Great Falls Ledge — “On Saturday, at 2:31 p.m., units were dispatched to 9200 Old Dominion Drive for an injured hiker. Hiker fell 40 feet down a steep rocky ledge. Crews fully immobilized and carried person out via stokes basket to Fairfax County Police Department helicopter. Transported with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Fairfax History Commission Seeks More Resources — “Commission Chairman Cheryl Repetti, who delivered the group’s annual report to the Board of Supervisors June 28, asked supervisors to finance a full-time staff member and allot extra county staff hours to help fulfill the board’s requests of the commission.” [Sun Gazette]

South Lakes HS Stadium Closed — “Hey Seahawks…Our stadium is CLOSED while we make some improvements to it. The turf is being replaced & the bleachers are getting a minor upgrade. Should take a month. Thanks for your patience.” [South Lakes Athletics & Activities/Twitter]

Longtime McLean Postal Workers Retire — “[Scott] Arnold and his best friend in the Postal Service, Rob Receveur, both had served McLean for years, and this past week, both were celebrated as they hung up their mailbags…It’s hard to quantify Arnold’s legacy, but you can sense his effect by how the neighborhood’s residents have shifted their lives to remain close to him.” [The Washington Post]

Firefighter Adopts Rescued Kitten — “May 28, Tower 424 and Tech Austin Adams rescued kitten out of a tree. Kitten was very young. @FairfaxCountyPD Animal Protection took him to @fairfaxanimals. Tech Adams kept in touch. Thursday, he and his wife adopted kitten — now named Ash!” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Virginia Shares Data on Firearm Injuries — “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a new data dashboard on firearm injuries in Virginia showing the number and rate of emergency department (ED) visits from 2016 to 2022. The dashboard shows firearm injury data by year, health district, age group, sex, and race/ethnicity across Virginia.” [VDH]

It’s Tuesday — Rain in the evening. High of 84 and low of 71. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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This year’s Lake Thoreau art project includes two floating heads, based on early mock-ups (via Reston Association)

Two heads with a complex web of activity spilling about them will float on the Lake Thoreau spillway in Reston sometime this year.

Students from South Lakes High School’s STEAM team have prepared designs for their yearly project under the supervision of SLHS art teacher and sponsor Marco Rando.

This year, two heads — representing the right and left sides of the brain — will be strung together using several reflective cords. The sculpture would be tied down with aircraft cable, as has typically been done with previous installations.

The 9-foot-tall sculpture aims to reflect the brain’s role as a “superintelligent force” that powers the body and displays the brain’s synergetic functions, challenging the idea of individuals simply being left-brained or right-brained.

“Our sculpture will be recognizing the beauty and the complexity of the human brain,” said Sophia Pick, a SLHS student.

Evening lights will be hidden inside platform boxes. The two contrasting faces of the sides of the brain will be connected with wooden beams and a web of neurons made out of paracord — a design that aims to reflect the interconnectivity of the brain.

The sculpture takes inspiration from the Moire effect, a method using dots or lines that creates illusions. The effect would be incorporated into the wire mesh of the sculpture.

Students from the club presented the project to Reston Association’s Design Review Board on April 19.

The board unanimously approved the application after seeking clarification on how the project would be anchored for stability.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing this out there,” said member James Lozoskie.

Rando noted that the club got off to a “slow start” due to the transition from virtual to in-person learning, but have made good progress so far. Students have been working on the project since the beginning of the school year.

He did not immediately indicate the cost of the project and the expected date of installation.

This year, several community sponsors — including Red’s Table, Public Art Reston, and Mary and David Prochnow — helped raised funds for the project.

Students hope to display detailed artwork on panels essentially made of an aluminum composite — a feature they said was possible because significant funds were raised for the project.

The team has been designing temporary public art sculptures for the spillway for several years, including “Pyramid of Light” (2014), “Nothing Twice” (2015) and “Simon” (2016).

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Morning Notes

A rainy mid-day in Fairfax (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Invasive Spiders Could Reach D.C. Area — “An invasive species of spider the size of a child’s hand is expected to “colonize” the entire East Coast this spring by parachuting down from the sky, researchers at the University of Georgia announced last week.” [Axios]

Ramp Closure Coming to I-66 Near Vienna — “Travel lanes on Nutley Street will shift and the ramp from Nutley Street South to I-66 West will be closed as part of work planned for this weekend, March 11-14, for the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project. Drivers heading from Nutley Street South to I-66 West will proceed..past the current ramp to turn right at a traffic signal onto a temporary ramp to access the interstate. This detour will remain in place for approximately three weeks.” [VDOT]

TJ-Inspired Bill Passes General Assembly — Legislators passed a bill on governor’s school admissions that was inspired by opposition to the overhaul at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The bill originally blocked measures aimed at addressing disparities like the ones used by the Fairfax County School Board but was amended to broadly prohibit racial discrimination. [Associated Press/WTOP]

McLean Murder Case Goes Before Jury — “The bloodshed inside the family home in McLean, where two women were fatally shot in 2017, was either motivated by money for a new house or love for an unpopular boyfriend, depending on whom jurors decide to believe.” [The Washington Post]

Uniqlo Plans Fairfax Store — “Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo is planning a second Northern Virginia location to its growing portfolio of stores in Greater Washington. The retail chain is taking over space formerly occupied by home furnishings company Kirkland’s at 13041 Fair Lakes Shopping Center, according to Fairfax County permit data.” [Washington Business Journal]

Trail Repairs in Mantua Begin Monday — “Tibbs Paving will be making repairs and paving the stretch of the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail from Route 50 to Thaiss Memorial Park (City of Fairfax) beginning March 14, 2022. The anticipated project duration will be about two weeks running from March 14 through 25, 2022.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Taco Rock Opens in Falls Church — “The new location, the largest of [chef Mike Codero’s] three Taco Rock locations at 2,800-square-feet, is in the new, Giant Food-anchored Birch & Broad shopping center…It has a 25-foot-long tequila bar, and a big heated outdoor patio with seating for 100.” [WTOP]

County Rec Centers Seek Swim Teachers — The Fairfax County Park Authority is hiring aquatics instructors to teach children and adults of various skill levels. Positions are available at all nine rec centers, and pay starts at $21.64 per hour, increasing based on experience and certifications. Applicants must be at least 16 and able to work some weekends. [FCPA]

South Lakes Students Start Company to Support Artists — “Sixteen teens from South Lakes High School have built a company called “JACP Company F: Iris,” or IRIS for short. The company is entirely student-run, operating at the school’s address…IRIS sells merchandise such as t-shirts and first-edition stickers printed with juried artwork submitted by local high school and college students.” [Reston Connection]

It’s Thursday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 53 and a low around 35. The sun rose at 6:26 and will set at 6:11 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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