School Board Meeting on Critical Race Theory, Transgender Policy Descends into Violence

One man was arrested and another was issued a trespassing summons after a school board in Virginia cut off public comment during a meeting debating proposals about the treatment of transgender students.

The Loudoun County School Board (LCS) meeting became heated on Tuesday evening following protests from parents in the Virginia district who disagree with the proposed policy around transgender rights and are against the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in schools.

The transgender policy would require staff at Loudoun County schools to use the preferred pronouns of students and would allow them to use bathrooms that "correspond to their consistently asserted gender identity," according to a copy of the document.

NBC Washington reported that security was high at the meeting, as parents were at the event to protest against the transgender policy and CRT.

Parents protesting against critical race theory broke into the national anthem when the Loudoun Co., Virginia school board ended public comment because the crowd got too out of hand

— Gabriella Borter (@gabriellaborter) June 22, 2021

Tensions had also been raised by parents gathering on June 12 in the area to protest against CRT with some carrying signs reading: "judge character not skin color" and "critical race theory is poison!"

CRT is an academic field that analyzes race and racism as social dynamics throughout history and challenges mainstream approaches to racial justice, according to certain academics.

Several Republican figures have criticized the field of study and attempted to ban the teaching of CRT in schools and universities.

Despite the protests, the LCS has repeatedly denied that CRT is being taught in schools in the district, according to WJLA.

Around 260 people signed up to speak about the policy proposal for transgender students and to protest against CRT on Tuesday. Some parents shouted "shame on you" and held signs that said: "we the parents stand up" and "education not indoctrination."

Many parents became disruptive after several spoke in favor of the policy, causing the LCS School Board to call for a 5-minute recess to allow them to calm down.

After the recess was over, the LCS School Board Chair Brenda Sheridan said that the group had voted unanimously to shut down the meeting again if the room became too disruptive.

After they witnessed more disruptions from the parents, the board shut down the meeting and ordered people to leave, with a school district spokesperson saying that the "meeting has degenerated."

The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office said told Newsweek that the event was then declared an "unlawful assembly" by the Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools, meaning that the attendees legally had to leave or be charged with trespassing.

Some parents sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the board members left the room, while one man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest for allegedly clashing with another attendee.

The man was "acting disorderly and displayed aggressive behavior towards another attendee," the police in a statement to NBC Washington, as it alleged that the man resisted being taken into custody before being arrested.

The sheriff's office confirmed that a second man was issued a summons for trespassing in the building after the school board had asked everyone to leave the room.

In her closing remarks at the meeting on Tuesday that were shared with Newsweek by the school board, Sheridan said that the board supports LGBTQ students and will continue to fight for equality.

"We will not back down from fighting for the rights of our students and continuing our focus on equity," Sheridan said. "We will continue to work towards making Virginia, specifically Loudoun, the best place to raise a family."

She then urged parents to end "politically motivated antics" and said that "loud voices aiming to make our schools a political battleground will not silence the work for our students."

Newsweek has contacted the Loudoun County School Board and the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office for comment.

Transgender policy debate in Virginia
Trans pride flags flutter in the wind at a gathering to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, 2017 at the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building in Los Angeles, California. One man was arrested and another was issued a trespassing summons after a school board in Virginia cut off public comment during a meeting debating proposals about the treatment of trandgender students. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images