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Trans-Exclusionary Policies are Bullying Kids to Death

The following is a letter posted by 4 Public Education Board Member Robert Rigby to Loudoun County Public Schools in response to their devastating advancement of Youngkin's anti-transgender "model policies" last week. In the face of the revelations of horrific beating death of nonbinary 16 year-old Nex Benedict on school grounds in Oklahoma, we feel that the sentiment in this letter needs to be public.

Please consider standing up to be counted and speak out for our most vulnerable students no matter their gender, gender identity, race, ability, income-level, or language. Robert sets an example that all of us should follow.

A water-color transgender colored heart on a light blue background

February 15, 2024

Dear all, in Loudoun County Public Schools,

Let me be the fool who tells the emperor that he in fact is unclothed.

Your proposed changes of Policy 8040 are one of the greatest withdrawals of human rights that a class of people have previously had that I have seen in my 60 years on the planet. It’s not a routine policy adjustment.

Speaking truthfully: When the governor proposed his “Model Policies” by fiat in 2022, some children in our area lost their lives. I attended a number of wrenching memorial gatherings. 

More deaths of children happened around the state when that “model” policy was enacted by executive order last summer. Many folks who did not die physically on the outside died on the inside.

I caution you that similar loss of life and permanent damage to psyches and souls will likely occur if you pass this proposal in committee, more so if it passes the school board itself, and in a great way once it is enforced:

  1. The proposal is a massive withdrawal of Human Rights from a defenseless population. 

  2. It is a response to a wavering, unstable period in state government. That is, the suggested changes to 8040 are an answer to a proposal given by fiat by a one-term-governor that has been rejected by the courts and the legislature. 

  3. It will result in some death among children, and much harm that may be physical, emotional and spiritual. If you pass the proposal or any part of it you will be a powerful, policy-making contributor to that harm.

  4. Families will flee Loudoun if they are able; others will hide. Some children will try to get out as they are able, whether they are voting with their lives or with their feet. Again, this will be your doing. 

  5. No teacher respectful of children will want to come and work for you; it turns out that Fairfax next door has chosen to be an humane place, so decent people have a place near-by to work.

  6. You radically reduce the viability of your county as a place for businesses to locate, for people to live and for people to work. Who would choose to locate a business in a place that diminishes its most vulnerable residents?

  7. You will be clearly, openly, expressly and with great effort creating a safe space for this particular type of bigotry.

  8. Playing with authoritarians never works; appeasement never works; this ends up being a creeping but real threat to the democracy of which you are a part.  

  9. To repeat the statement above, children will die in their bodies, children will die inside for life, families will flee, children will flee, and you are encouraging and are complicit in home-done reparative therapy.

If you vote in favor and are a perpetrator, I have no idea what to say: how does one approach a soul so indifferent to the least among us as you would be then.

 If you oppose, but appease and compromise and so remain in the room while this is being approved you should remind yourself that history will not remember the vitriol of the bad people but it will remember the criminal silence of the good people.

If this passes against your will, I recommend expressing your unwillingness to remain in a room where such Nuremberg Law-like policies are being enacted, and leaving after having declared why. If you stay in the room out of politeness, you look like what is going on is OK with you. 

It’s not about parents’ rights, it’s about scapegoating a disliked, vulnerable, defenseless group of children to foster unrelated goals. The same people (ADF, M4L, PDE, IWF, Parents First, Shapiro, Farris, Walsh, etc.) who are pushing parents’ rights here are elsewhere working hard to deny parent’s rights to support their queer kids. I call BS!

It’s not about parents’ rights, it’s about scapegoating a disliked, vulnerable, defenseless group of children to foster unrelated goals.

What is this attempt to abnegate the existence and reality of transgender children from a 10,000 foot perspective. It is most certainly not democracy. It is demagoguery and authoritarianism, which are steps on the road to totalitarianism. You all can make the analogies to 1922 in Italy; 1933, 1934, and 1938 in Germany; and Spain in 1936-39 without my help.

Here are my recommendations: 1) Do not vote for this; 2) Loudly proclaim why not; 3) If it passes despite your opposition, do NOT remain in the room; rather, resign from the committee, refuse to be complicit, and leave the room.

You really can do no other while still remaining worthy of the people whom you represent, the families whom you serve and the children in your care.

Robert Rigby Jr. Retired teacher LGBTQIA+ person 

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