A sea of purple greeted members of the Stafford County School Board on Tuesday night.
Dozens of residents dressed in purple apparel—and even some with purple-dyed hair—attended the board meeting to vocalize their support for adding gender identity and sexual orientation to the school system’s nondiscrimination policy.
The Stafford schools’ nondiscrimination policy states that the board does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, color, religion, national origin, political affiliation or disability.
A student from Colonial Forge High School brought up a recent Snapchat post allegedly depicting Stafford students burning a rainbow flag. Another showed a poster that read “lesbian gay bisexual transgender pedosexual” with the acronym “LGBTP.”
Stafford resident Lesley Cook said her daughter—a student at Colonial Forge—received the Snapchat posts.
“The school was responsive, but it doesn’t take away the fear or pain,” Cook said. “Images of burning flags have a clear purpose—you are not welcome and you are not safe.”
The mother of a transgender student at Hartwood Elementary School pleaded with the board to implement training for staff and teachers on how to advocate for LGBTQ students. In 2015, the School Board denied her petition to allow her child to use the restroom of the gender the student identifies with.
Another mother of a transgender student attending Stafford schools noted that many transgender youth lose their lives to suicide. She said schools should focus on the real dangers to students, such as drugs and alcohol, and that her “child being born in the wrong body is not something parents and administrators should fear.”
Chairwoman Holly Hazard issued an opening statement emphasizing that the board appreciates the “rich diversity of the county” and that “eradication of prejudice is something no school system can accomplish in isolation.” She said the school system is committed to creating a safe environment for all students.
“All means all,” Hazard said.