ASHBURN, Virginia, January 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In a 5-4 vote Tuesday night, the Loudoun County School Board rejected a proposal to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the protected characteristics listed in its equal employment policy.
Instead, the board voted unanimously to add a paragraph stating the school system hires based on excellence and merit, and values diversity in employees and students. The ACLU and others had asked the board to go beyond the requirements of Virginia and federal law and add additional categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” These categories would have violated Virginia’s “Dillon rule” which requires local nondiscrimination laws to not be more stringent than the state law. State law does not include “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” or “gender expression.”
“This is good news that the Loudoun County School Board is not caving to radical activists regarding its employment policy,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Individuals should be hired according to qualifications and merit. The law already protects employees from discrimination based on race, age, biological sex, and religion. The Constitution does not protect a person’s choice of sexual lifestyle.”
In neighboring Fairfax County, the School Board changed its nondiscrimination policy and added “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” to its policy and student handbook. Virginia civil rights laws explicitly prohibit local governing bodies from altering the state’s nondiscrimination policy; Liberty Counsel filed an appeal against Fairfax County to the Virginia Supreme Court.
WTOP reported, “Several board members said they should wait for guidance from Virginia courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, before considering whether they needed to update the protected groups to include sexual orientation and gender identity.”