Hundreds show up to speak to Augusta School Board about transgender policy

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 9:59 AM EDT
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VERONA, Va. (WHSV) - In Verona Thursday night, hundreds of people showed up at the Augusta County Government Center, most speaking out against a policy that would allow transgender students to use the bathroom aligning with their gender identity.

Starting this school year, all public schools in Virginia must take new steps to prevent discrimination based on gender identity. Now, the Augusta County School Board is considering how to align its policies with state law.

Those opposed shared fears about re-traumatizing sexually abused children. Some quoted the Bible talking about God’s laws. Others talked about the majority being dictated by the minority. And, several speakers reminded the School Board that they work for the people of Augusta County, not Richmond.

“I’m not here to label transgender as an evil person or a bad person at all,” said Danielle Showalter. “But, who knows when someone that isn’t transgender would use it as a cover to harm our children? Even if it happens one time, that’s one time too many.”

“It is amazing to see that we’re even talking about this in this area,” stated Harold Munson. “In the name of acceptance and tolerance we’re asked to trample on the rights of the vast majority of our students who find this distressing.”

“Going along with these guidelines that have been set before you will then set the precedent of placing all future moral decisions from the culture upon yourselves,” said Renee Craig. “Entering upon the slippery slope will have you making a pandora’s box worth of moral judgments for everyone’s children in Augusta County from here on out and that’s a lot of pressure.”

Bethany Popelish who spoke in favor of the policy amid booing from the crowd said the bigger threat is to transgender students. “There is no evidence to support the claim that allowing students to use the bathroom aligning with their identity will increase the risk of sexual violence in schools,” said Popelish.

The School Board’s attorney, Rodney Young, says if the Board does not pass the policy they will be in direct violation of the law. That means they could face potential lawsuits, and the school system could see a loss of funding.

“Local school boards have pre-eminent authority with regard to the supervision of the schools in the school division,” stated Young. “That does not give local school boards the authority to violate clearly existing law.”

The School Board will make a decision on that policy before school starts.

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