Parents waited outside in sweltering heat and an “electrical” thunderstorm as they protested a new transgender policy being considered by the Loudoun County Public School (LCPS) Board. Policy 8040 would give LCPS leeway to incorporate expanded pronouns for students—expanded access to facilities and sports—according to gender identity and added training for staff and faculties related to gender identity issues.
The policy changes, in draft form below, aim to broaden existing programs such as bullying prevention, dress codes, sexual harassment/discrimination programs—to incorporate policies that address protected classes such as those who identify as transgender individuals.
According to several parents, the LCPS Board had forewarned its more progressive allies, changing the rules last minute from one to two minutes speaking time to allow “parents-in-the-know” to weigh in virtually. The virtual comments were allowed to go first. The unprecedented 2-minute time allotment resulted in those who showed up in person waiting longer in the heat and rain.
Due to the protracted time for public comment on Tuesday, the Board had to reconvene its meeting to Wednesday for a vote on whether to incorporate Policy 8040. It passed 7-2, with Jeff Morse and John Beatty voting against the policy. According to the Loudoun Times-Mirror:
“The board passed two amendments during the hour-long discussion. The first, introduced by Board Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan, will require inclusivity training for all LCPS staff members. The second, introduced by Board member Ian Serotkin, will require that school restrooms be modified to ensure privacy, modesty and safety for all students.”
UncoverDC spoke with several parents who attended the Tuesday meeting in person: Elicia Brand, Patti Menders, Joe Mobley, and Paul Lott. All reported that there was an increased police presence, including some who had police dogs. Fox News reported that news crews were in attendance from all over the world, including Japan, Denmark, and Sweden.
During the public comments, a young man named Ryan spoke tearfully about having been molested as a 13-year-old boy. Ryan told his heartbreaking story to the board, he said, to protect his brother. He expressed his belief that a policy like 8040 would allow “sexual predators to slip through the cracks that these loopholes and these policies provide.”
Elicia Brand followed Ryan. Brand has been a core member of what is now a growing contingent of parents who have been protesting school lockdowns, Critical Race Theory (CRT) and unconstitutional measures in LCPS. Brand was equally moving in her pleas to the school board. She told UncoverDC that listening to Ryan made her extremely emotional.
Ryan’s fears are not unfounded. Earlier this year, a teenager at Stonebridge High School in Loudoun County was “forcibly sodomized” in the bathroom by a “bi-sexual boy wearing a skirt.”
The story was in the news because a transgender allied individual aggressively and verbally accosted the girl’s father during a school board meeting on June 22. The father, Scott Smith, 48, of Leesburg, VA, was visibly shaken during the encounter. Several parents observed his attempts to refrain from responding reactively to the aggressive woman. However, when he began to shout expletives to get her to back off, he was arrested by the police, who did not seem to know the background of the story.
The father’s name and face was plastered all over the news and he was labeled an anti-trans racist in several publications. He was released. The teenager who molested the girl was in detention for 20 days and is under house arrest until his court date at the end of September. The school board walked out twice during the same meeting.
New: at least one person in custody after Loudoun Co. School Board meeting re: new policy regarding transgender students descends into chaos & room ordered cleared @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/B35vTt7YWX
— Jackie Bensen (@jackiebensen) June 22, 2021
The parents protesting Policy 8040 held a rally during the board meeting. The rally was organized by Patti Menders, who has been a consistent presence at the meetings and rallies for freedom in schools. During that rally, retired Senator Dick Black spoke about what happened at the last school board meeting at the 1 hour 38 minutes timestamp. He also described what happened to the teenage girl at Stone Bridge High School.
During Tuesday’s meeting, a teacher named Laura Morris told the board that she has struggled with going back to school because of school board policies that are at odds with her beliefs. She explained having received a form from the district requesting that teachers “fill it out if we hear one another speaking against the controversial policies being promoted by this school board and adopted in this county. Not only that, but within the last year, I was told in one of my “so-called equity trainings” that white, Christian, able-bodied females currently have the power in our schools and that, quote, this has to change.”
At the end of her comments, she tearfully told the board:
“I quit. I quit your policies. I quit your trainings and I quit being a cog in a machine that tells me to push highly politicized agendas on our most vulnerable constituents—the children.”
Laura Morris is a hero. The Loudoun County school board are putting divisive politics over our children. They should resign. https://t.co/Vf77tERury
— Mercedes Schlapp (@mercedesschlapp) August 11, 2021
In an effort to be fully heard, the group of parents, many of whom are associated with Ian Prior’s Fight For Schools Pac, showed up on Sunday before the board for a neighborhood backyard meeting to tell their whole story, unhindered by time limits or the media. Fox News showed clips from the meeting.
The parents who spoke with UncoverDC on Wednesday said the neighborhood meeting was organized so they could fully express their thoughts on the direction of the Loudoun County schools. They knew the board would find a way to limit their comments just as they had done in the past. And, like clockwork, the rules were changed last minute. Many of the parents believe the rules for the Aug. 10 meeting were changed to “wear them down and make them give up on speaking at the meeting.”
Elicia Brand and Patti Menders have been core members of the group that originally showed up in front of the Board in May of 2020 to establish a “back to in-person school plan.” Parent voices in prior meetings have been shut down, board members have left or shut down public comment, or mics have been cut mid-sentence in many instances.
Brand has recently started a group called “Army of Parents,” representing about 100,000 parents in Virginia from various groups fighting for Constitutional issues and freedom. Whether it is masks, informed choice on vaccines, or freedom from politically-driven curricula like Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools.
The group’s first organized show of force was during a May 11 school board meeting during which parents read from sexually graphic materials in the curriculum. UncoverDC was present for the June 8 meeting, which addressed CRT in the Loudoun County schools.
According to Brand, board member Beth Barts, a vocal advocate of CRT and transgender issues, refused to show in person on Tuesday “due to a personal safety” issue. Barts posted a message to that effect on Facebook.
Barts has been open about her involvement with local progressive activist groups. In some cases, she has helped target parents who disagree with her political beliefs with the help of a group of parents dubbed “the Chardonnay Antifa,” fostering what many of the anti-CRT parents believe to be an environment of hostility.
Brand explained that prior to the August 10 board meeting, several progressive groups purposely tried to scare people in the community into not attending the board meetings.
Two groups and their allies, Loudoun Democrats and Equality Loudoun, sent out social media messaging indicating people were being bussed in from other states—implying that parents would be violent—a completely fabricated version of events.
The parents advocating for opening schools and freedom from CRT curricula have never shown up with threatening messages or an intent to harm. Several parents shared with UncoverDC what they perceived to be inflammatory or patently false messages captured in tweets and screenshots below:
2/Friends who tried to set up an area for those showing support for the board have been threatened and now are shutting down their effort.
— Flight#93 ???????? (@F1ight9) August 9, 2021
UncoverDC spoke with Paul Lott, who is running for office in Virginia. Lott is President & Founder of the National Society for the Advancement of Black Americans. The organization focuses on issues in black, urban communities and, more recently, CRT. He is a veteran and former President of the Harvard Black Alumnae Society. He is also the father of 10 children.
In June, UncoverDC wrote a story featuring Lott, who came forward with whistleblower information about HB1904 and its resulting “Cultural Proficiency and Culturally Responsive Instruction.” The article stated the law and equity training were ways to bring CRT to the schools without directly incorporating it into the curriculum:
“Lott explained that instead of using straight curriculum and materials to implement CRT, the schools are training the teachers to be purveyors of the attitudes and mindset of the CRT curriculum—“’and not calling it CRT.’”
In response to the outcome from Tuesday’s board meeting, Lott told UncoverDC:
“I walked away from yesterday thinking, “Where do we go from here?” It is never good when the school district appears to be hostile to the parents. The teacher’s words and resignation only served to increase my level of concern over what is going on in the schools. The district needs to put together a working group of some kind to craft a policy that bans the teaching of things like white privilege as part of teacher training or student education. If the school district is not implementing Critical Race Theory by another name, then the district school be willing to issue a policy that bans the objectionable ideas within CRT. I am reaching out to the district to ask them to simply issue a policy that says the following:
The district would not to include or promote the following concepts as part of a course of instruction, in a curriculum, instructional program or to use supplemental instructional materials that include or promote the following concepts, orally or in writing for students or teachers training that:
(1) One (1) race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
(2) An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;
(3) An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual’s race or sex;
(4) An individual’s moral character is determined by the individual’s race or sex;
(5) An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
(6) An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual’s race or sex;
(7) A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex;
(8) This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist;
(9) Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government;
(10) Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people;
(11) Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex;
(12) The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups;
(13) All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; or
(14) Governments should deny to any person within the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.
These are principles that everyone should be able to agree on IF the intent is not to introduce CRT into the school system. Issuing a policy statement containing these principles would go a long way in settling CRT fear issues with parents. I am offering our resources to draft such a policy statement. I think such a policy statement would settle the CRT issue and give the district the opportunity to move forward having put an end to parent fears.”
The numbered points above are part of a Race-Based Learning Opt-Out Form that Lott developed and has distributed statewide. Lott has been working with members of the Virginia Senate on legislation toward “affirming the rights of parents to control their children’s education.”
Follow-Up With Moms For Liberty Williamson County Chapter
The Williamson County, TN chapter of Moms for Liberty is also continuing its fight for students—this time to protest mask mandates. The Williamson County School (WCSB) Board limited the number of people allowed in the room for public comment, so its Chapter Founder, Robin Steenman, took the overflow crowd to the back of a pick-up truck.
Yesterday’s meeting focused on giving the discretion to wear a mask back to parents. An estimated 1200 people showed up to protest the prospect of a mask mandate.
The Board voted “7 – 3 to reinstate masks for elementary schools. Williamson County Schools brought back their mask mandate after a vote at a heated board meeting that lasted four hours.,” per reporting by wsmv.com. Parents erupted in protest at the decision. Students return to school on Friday morning.
Steenman’s pinned Facebook post presents to parents their options as they are confronted with the mask mandate. They are calling their protest “Walk-Away Williamson County.”
UncoverDC reached out to Robin Steenman on Wednesday. She explained that Vicky Hall, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for Williamson County Schools, is now asking for medical letters from teachers who refuse to comply with the masks. Steenman highlighted a statement on mask compliance from outgoing school board member Brad Fiscus in District 4. Fiscus ran for a seat in the state House of Representatives as an Independent last fall and lost. He stated that the “schools take custody of students” when they go through those doors.
Vanderbilt Medical center had also allegedly directed MDs to show up at the board meeting to “pitch mandatory mask narratives,” according to a Facebook post on the Moms For Liberty Williamson Chapter page. Fiscus’ wife happens to be none other than pediatrician and top vaccine official Dr. Michelle Fiscus. She wrote a 1200 word statement after being fired from the TN Dept. of Health because of a memo she wrote supporting the Tennessee Health Department’s Mature Minor Doctrine—a policy that allows health providers to treat certain minors without parental consent.
Dr. Fiscus was advocating for certain minors to receive the Covid vaccine without parental consent. Fiscus and her husband are now moving to D.C., where it is rumored she will be making policy there.
Steenman feels there are too many people like Fiscus on school boards who are “systematically destroying the trust of the parents.” Moms for Liberty Williamson County has been working with a local organization founded by Gary Humble, called Tennessee Stands. The organization has tracked and fought executive orders by Governor Bill Lee and all legislation that has violated the Tennessee Constitution. Their letter of non-consent to mask-wearing is available here.
This week, Rand Paul took a stand with his “I Choose Freedom” message—a message encouraging Americans to stand up against all forms of government tyranny.
We are at a moment of truth and a crossroads. Will we allow these people to use fear and propaganda to do further harm to our society, economy, and children?
Or will we stand together and say, absolutely not. Not this time. I choose freedom. pic.twitter.com/XrI2tjdAHW
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 8, 2021
Moms For Liberty Still Fighting CRT
Moms For Liberty continues to fight the adoption of CRT in schools. The Williamson County group put out a call to action to write letters to the legislature because of language in the state’s Anti-CRT legislation that seems to favor the schools and state board of education—not taxpayers and parents. Public comment on the legislation closed on Aug. 11.
UncoverDC has followed the Williamson county group since April with a series of articles on CRT. UncoverDC is also currently partnering with Emmy award-winning newsman John Spiropoulos on a documentary series of short videos called “The Poison in our Schools” repeatedly featured on Bannon’s War Room podcast. A subset of the collaborative CRT videos will focus on the Wit and Wisdom curriculum materials and teacher lesson plans highlighted by the Williamson County Moms for Liberty.