Fairfax County Public Schools Board of Education was considering several amendments to its Student Rights and Responsibilities Booklet. Among the amendments being considered was a proposed change to the Leveled Responses to Student Behavior table which outlined various potential student behaviors and their related disciplinary consequences.
Most notably, the definition of “Discriminatory Harassment” would be amended, in part, to include “outing related to gender identification”. In a letter to the district, FAIR Legal expressed concerns that if this amendment was approved, FCPS would encounter scenarios wherein it would be impossible to honor potentially conflicting rights of students. Additionally, the First Amendment denies states and their agencies (including public schools) the power to require adherence to any particular set of ideological beliefs.
FAIR urged the district to reconsider the amendment. Taking FAIR’s letter into consideration, the board decided to add new language to the proposal including the term “malicious” to help discern between events of malintent and free speech. FAIR very much supports the additional protection for transgender students, and believes there are ways to protect those students without infringing upon students first amendment rights.