Blaze News investigates: 'Where the fight is' — Virginia teen refuses to compromise her faith for gender ideology; takes school district to court

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Virginia has fielded various battles in recent years over parental rights and radical gender ideology in the classroom. While those supportive of the former and antipathetic to the latter appear to have gained some ground in the swing state since the time of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 win, it’s abundantly clear that this remains an undecided war.

While historically a fight between adults at kids' expense, a brave teen in Northern Virginia who found herself caught up in Fairfax County Public Schools’ leftist counteroffensive has stepped into the breach.

The high school senior, referred to as Jane Doe in court documents, is suing the Fairfax County School Board with the help of the America First Legal Foundation, alleging she has been compelled "to speak in a manner that violates her sincerely held philosophical and religious beliefs" and has been discriminated against on the basis of both her beliefs and her sex.

This young Christian woman has apparently refused to consent to the invasion of girls' bathrooms and locker rooms by transvestites and other opportunistic males seeking accommodation over their so-called gender identity. She has also refused to call "students who identify as gender-expansive or transgender ... by their chosen name and pronoun, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent pupil record."

The lawsuit, filed in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, seeks an admission on the part of the FCSB that its rules have violated the teen's right to free expression, free exercise, and due process under the Virginia Constitution along with her right to be free from government discrimination on the basis of religion and sex. Additionally, Doe seeks an injunction along with a declaratory judgment that the district's gender ideology policy is incompatible with the guarantees of freedom provided by the Constitution and Code of Virginia.

Ian Prior, senior legal advisor with America First Legal, said in a statement, "Fairfax County Public Schools appears to believe that its policies and regulations can override the Virginia Constitution’s protections for religious beliefs, speech, and from government discrimination on the basis of sex and religious beliefs."

'Where the fight is'

Even though the Biden administration is poised to foist gender ideology on schools nationwide via its final Title IX regulations, some parental rights advocates are convinced that a win in this case would nevertheless be significant.

Alvin Lui, the president and cofounder of the parental rights advocacy group Courage Is a Habit, told Blaze News that Doe’s defiance and litigation is "where the fight is."

"When you have a lawsuit like with this young lady, this one young lady who presumably had the backing of her parents and her family — this is where the fight is," said Lui. "This lawsuit is hugely important because it reminds people not to wait for people to come. ... This is the pushback people need."

"If this goes her way, every parent group — and you can be sure that Courage Is a Habit will absolutely take advantage of this — every parent group out there from Moms for Liberty to Moms for America to all the other smaller groups should take that and distribute that to the local school districts and have their children push back ... because now a precedent has been set," added Lui, who has been working to protect American children in various states including Maine.

Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, told Blaze News, "I'm proud of the student for standing up and saying that 'I am being compelled to do things and say things that I don’t believe.'"

"The idea that a student would have to sign away what they believe to attend public school is un-American," continued Cobb, whose faith-based organization has been fighting to ensure Virginians can freely live out their faith in the public square.

Cobb added that the requirement a student would have to surrender his or her "First Amendment rights to attend school is legally abhorrent. I think the [FCPS] will find themselves struggling on the back end of this lawsuit."

Should the Christian teen fail in her civil rights lawsuit, she will have at least demonstrated the cost of a clear conscience in Fairfax County.

Background

Virginians elected Gov. Youngkin in November 2021 largely due to his stances on parental rights and education. Given a mandate to take decisive action in these areas, Youngkin’s administration has taken steps to roll back some of the previous government’s radical policies.

However, various local public school districts, including the largest public school system in the state, have resisted the democratic will of the people, recommitting to rules that systematically advance gender ideology — apparently at the expense of some students’ safety and First Amendment rights.

In July 2023, the Virginia Department of Education released its final Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools, highlighting that the previous model policies under former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam not only "promoted a specific viewpoint aimed at achieving cultural and social transformation in schools" but had "also disregarded the rights of parents and ignored other legal and constitutional principles that significantly impact how schools educate students."

The Youngkin administration ultimately tossed out the Northam model policies and instead emphasized parents’ rights "to make decisions with respect to their children."

In addition to making sure parents could not be left in the dark about their kids' possible manifestations of gender dysphoria at school, the final policies required schools to: use students' real names; refer to students with the pronouns in accordance with the sex indicated on their official record unless given a formal written request by parents; and require that students use sex-segregated school facilities that correspond with their biological sex.

Where federal law requires transvestites to share in otherwise sex-segregated facilities with students of the opposite sex, the new guidelines allow for parents to opt their kids out of using such facilities and to have them provided with alternatives.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares confirmed in October that the model polices curbing gender ideology and keeping students’ sports and bathrooms sex-segregated were both legitimate and constitutional.

Ideology-affirming care

Apparently keen to let students transition behind parents’ backs and to allow transvestites to use facilities designated for members of the opposite sex, numerous local public school districts rejected the new model policies, including Fairfax County Public Schools.

In the face of such leftist rebellion, Youngkin underscored that his model polices were "the law and they don’t have a choice."

Evidently, FCPS superintendent Michelle Reid figured she and her underlings were above the law, noting in an update last year that FCPS was doubling down on its radical policies and would continue to:

  • address students "by their chosen names and pronouns";
  • provide gender-confused students "with access to facilities, activities, and/or trips consistent with their gender identity"; and
  • keep students' "gender expansive or transgender status" under wraps.

According to Jane Doe's lawsuit, these policies, outlined in FCPS' Regulation 2603.2 concerning "Gender-expansive and Transgender Students," have been used to run roughshod over her constitutional rights.

Jane Doe’s complaint notes that Regulation 2603.2 "purports to apply equally to all students" but effectively "elevates the interests of 'gender-expansive' and 'transgender' students at the expense of all others."

The lawsuit suggests, for instance, that by enabling those anatomically correct males claiming misalignment between their sex and gender to use girls' lavatories or locker rooms, "The Regulation puts the burden of accommodation on biological females who want to use the appropriate restroom or locker room."

Besides ceding women’s spaces to gender ideologues, the lawsuit suggests further that the policy also surrenders linguistic territory on behalf of staff and students, tying Regulation 2603.2 to nondiscrimination and harassment policies, such as Regulation 4952.5, which forbids "gender-based harassment."

Harassment of this kind includes "gendered name calling, gendered remarks that are derogatory in nature — intending to demean or humiliate, and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression."

Jane Doe and other students whose deeply held beliefs are at odds with the ideology coded into school policy do not simply have to deal with the fallout. They apparently have to sign off on it.

Values test

Fairfax County Public Schools require students and parents to sign a student rights and responsibilities form (SRR) that states students have a right to "access restroom and locker room facilities and other non-stigmatizing accommodations that are consistent with the student’s gender identity" as well as to be called by chosen names and pronouns.

The SRR indicates further that students are required to "respect others' beliefs and differences" and "refrain from using words, images, or gestures that are obscene, violent, disruptive, or disrespectful."

The same document suggests that referring to a "transgender" student by their actual sex or legal name could qualify as "discriminatory harassment."

Failure to indulge a student's "gender identity" could land FCPS students various punishments, including weekend detentions, suspensions, and "behavioral instruction."

Lui of Courage Is a Habit suggested that schools are the primary vehicle for what he calls the "transgender cult." Regulation 2603.2 and similar policies are ostensibly a means of codifying cultist beliefs and curbing dissent.

"The majority of kids need to go to public schools. And so they spend the seven hours a day, five days a week, 13 years in the system, and that's where all this transgender ideology comes from," Lui told Blaze News. "There's a lot of young ladies like [Doe] in K through 12 that think like her, but they're bullied into silence — not only by fellow students but by the administration itself."

"Kids already have a hard enough time, you know, with peer pressure and things like that. Now, you've got counselors and teachers and principals and our entire culture saying, 'If you don't [use] my pronouns, there's going to be consequences. There's going to be punishments,'" added Lui.

Signing off on the problem

Doe, a senior at a FCPS high school, is a devout Roman Catholic "who strives to live in accordance with her faith daily" and "has sincerely held beliefs that govern her views, sincerely held beliefs about human nature, marriage, gender, sexuality, morality, politics, ethics, natural law, and social issues."

The suit notes that Doe "believes that referring to another person using pronouns that do not correspond with biological sex is harmful to herself because it forces her to lie." Furthermore, it indicates she believes on the basis of scientific evidence that gender ideology is more or less bogus.

At the beginning of this school year, Doe received the latest version of the SRR. Whereas in past years, parents would have to sign and acknowledge receipt of the SRR, now students must apparently watch a video, then take a test regarding the student rights they are to affirm and the corresponding responsibilities they are to assume.

"Signature and acceptance of the SR&R, a requirement of each student, was predicated on a student answering 70 percent of the questions 'correctly,'" says the complaint. "FCPS staff did not clearly explain to students that passing the test would result in the signature and acceptance of the SR&R."

Controversial elements of the SRR that are at odds with Doe's religious and philosophical beliefs made it into the video she had to watch and into the test she was expected to complete and sign.

Doe refused to take the test. This prickled her teacher who allegedly gave her written instruction to complete the test. Doe’s continued refusal reportedly prompted more urging by her teacher, both in person and over email.

In September, Doe was allegedly carted out of the cafeteria with other dissenting students to take the SRR test under supervision. Again, she apparently told the administrators to pound sand.

The next month, Doe's mother got involved, allegedly telling the school's principal Doe would not be taking the test as it "constituted 'compelled speech' on 'gender identity,' among other topics, which were contrary to their religious beliefs and family values."

Apparently, the FCPS was unwilling to give the student's mother the final word. Another employee reportedly told Doe's mom there was no opt-out for the SRR and that she would have to sign. She too refused, according to the complaint.

Extra to the pressure around the SRR sign-off, Doe has allegedly faced immense social pressure from educators over pronoun use and has had to share female spaces with males.

"It is well past time for FCPS to stop sacrificing the constitutional rights of its students so that it can implement a state-sanctioned ideology that demands compliance in speech, beliefs, and conduct," said Ian Prior of America First Legal. "Unfortunately, FCPS has repeatedly demonstrated that it will not voluntarily comply with the Virginia constitution and the Virginia Supreme Court’s rulings, so it will be up to students and parents to enforce their rights through the courts. We are proud to help them do just that."

In response to questions about the case and its particulars, a FCPS spokesman said in a statement to Blaze News, "Our current Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) policies are consistent with federal and state anti-discrimination laws."

"FCPS remains committed to fostering a safe, supportive, welcoming, and inclusive school environment for all students and staff," continued the statement. "Any student who has a need or desire for increased privacy in using a bathroom or locker room, regardless of the underlying reason, is provided with reasonable accommodations, including access to single user facilities."

Neither FCSB chairman Karl Frish nor FCPS superintendent Reid individually responded to requests for comment.

The governor's office did not provide comment by deadline.

Parental engagement

Both Cobb and Lui stressed that extra to taking legal action, parents need to remain engaged with regard to what's going on at their kids' schools.

"I think that parents need to demand the utmost transparency from their school boards and from their superintendents because many parents are simply unaware of the policies within their schools, and that’s intentional in some cases," said Cobb.

"It is a county-by-county battle because some counties have resisted now the good guidelines so, unfortunately, parents now have to be very wary of where they live and who they have in local school board office," continued Cobb. "Who is governing over the day-to-day experience of their child in that school? Because there are in fact still many school districts that have biological boys going into girls' bathrooms, biological boys playing on girls' sports teams, that have compelled speech."

Cobb referenced the Family Foundation’s "Protect Every Kid" initiative, which provides parents with Youngkin's updated parent-friendly model policies and what they need to put pressure on their respective school board members to ensure their schools are in alignment.

Lui, whose organization provides parents with various tools for fighting back against indoctrination in schools, stressed the importance of avoiding complacency in the wake of the occasional win. He cited as an example the mistaken sense that Gov. Youngkin’s election meant the war in the commonwealth was over.

"Once he got in, there was a sense of, 'We won. Yay. We can all go back now to our lives. Youngkin's got it.' And it's that outsourcing of parental responsibility that got us here in the first place," said Lui. "This was a good showing, but that doesn't solve anything."

Doe and other students are stuck dealing with symptoms of a broader problem that needs to be addressed, according to Lui. While Doe winning her lawsuit would be significant, Lui stressed that the social contagion must ultimately be dealt with at its source.

The parental rights advocate has his sights set on the "social-emotional learning" method and its champions at the American School Counselor Association, which he figures has been sneaking gender ideology into schools, in part through "language contamination."

"They use your vocabulary but not your dictionary. That's something that parents really need to understand is at the root of all of this: language contamination," said Lui. "Parents have stayed silent because they believe they're just teaching their kids empathy, but what they mean is that they're teaching the girls that when they see a boy in the bathroom, they need to quiet their own fears and needs and they need to empathize with the boy. They need to give empathy to the mentally ill man that walks into the bathroom. ... That [empathy] only goes one way."

Having students consent to the ideological takeover as Doe and others have apparently been asked to do is just an escalation in the culture war — "it's just the next level."

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Critics ruthlessly mock teachers' union president over her post about causes of home schooling spike: 'It's you, Randi.'

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Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, took a break Sunday from championing radical causes to share an article to X detailing how the spike in home schooling that occurred during the pandemic wasn't a flash in the pan.

Weingarten made the mistake of captioning the post, "What's behind the increase in homeschooling," prompting concerned parents, conservatives, and other critics of her union's ruinous initiatives to read it as a question and provide their own answers, which the ATF boss later characterized as attacks.

While various commenters indicated leftist indoctrination efforts in the classroom helped drive the home schooling boom, the most common answer to Weingarten's unintended question appears to have been "you."

The report

The ATF boss linked to an Axios breakdown of a recent Washington Post report, which revealed home schooling is America's fastest-growing form of education.

In states where data was available for comparison, the Post indicated the number of home-schooled students jumped 51% over the past six years. Meanwhile, private school enrollment increased by 7% and public school enrollment dropped by 4%.

The Post found that for every 10 students in public schools during the 2021-2022 academic year across 390 districts, there was one home-schooled child. There are now an estimated 1.9 million to 2.7 million home-schooled students in the U.S. — a population likely to continue growing.

While home-school student enrollment since the 2017-2018 school year is up across the board, at least where recent data is available, New York, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, California, Florida, and the District of Columbia have seen especially high increases — 103%, 94%, 91%, 77%, 78%, 72%, and 108%, respectively.

The rise has reportedly not dropped off since the end of the pandemic.

"This is a fundamental change of life, and it's astonishing that it's so persistent," Nat Malkus, deputy director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Post.

"Policymakers should think, 'Wow — this is a lot of kids," said Elizabeth Bartholet, an emeritus Harvard Law School professor and child welfare advocate. "We should worry about whether they're learning anything."

While Batholet and others might only speculate about the quality of a home school education, it's abundantly clear the American public school system isn't cutting it.

Blaze News noted in May that the National Assessment of Educational Progress's 2022 assessment revealed that grade 8 students' history scores last year were the lowest they had been since the NAEP began monitoring in 1994. Significant declines in academic ability were also observed amongst public grade-schoolers in reading and mathematics as well as in other subjects. Such damning figures cast doubt on whether students are learning anything in public classrooms with ATF-linked educators.

The post

Although there was no question mark in Weingarten's post, captioned, "What's behind the increase in homeschooling," she was nevertheless deluged with answers.

— (@)

Ricochet editor in chief Jon Gabriel responded, "You are."

Similarly Corey DeAngelis, executive director of the Education Freedom Institute, wrote, "It's you, Randi. It's you."

Spectator contributing editor Stephen Miller kept to the theme that Weingarten was the problem, sharing an image of a mirror.

Young Americans for Liberty suggested that Weingarten had unwittingly served as "one of the greatest homeschool advocates in American history." For that, Moms for Liberty indicated the 65-year-old leftist deserved thanks.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, responded, "Can't believe she posted this unironically. The lack of introspection continues."

Weingarten called the Trump administration's proposal to reopen in-person learning in 2020 "reckless" and "cruel." While the AFT resisted a return to real work, union affiliates joined in, staging sickouts and going so far as to call reopening schools racist.

Weingarten and her strike-happy union reportedly also had a decisive hand in shaping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, again preventing a wide scale resumption of normalcy.

These teacher-sought closures have been linked to a significant spike in mental illness, suicide, and obesity, as well to students' diminished immune systems and compromised academic development.

Weingarten's post has seen over 4.1 million times but only netted 210 likes at the time of publication.

In the comments, Weingarten wrote, "Ah, I see that the reply-guys are out in force attacking this tweet."

The ATF boss singled out possible remedies to a few problems she did not necessarily create, writing, "Look at the data: if we dealt w/gun violence, had robust anti-bullying programs & provided more services for special needs students, many of these parents wouldn't feel compelled to homeschool."

It appears the data Weingarten was alluding to derives from Washington Post-Schar School poll results published in September, which revealed some of the reasons parents provided for sparing their children from the American public school system. Beside religious factors, parents expressed concerns about school environments; a desire to provide moral instruction; dissatisfaction with academic standards; concerns about school shootings; liberal propagandizing; discrimination; and pandemic restrictions.

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Teachers admit to using ChatGPT to do their lesson planning, research, and class prep, despite risk of replacement

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Facing replacement, John Henry, the steel-driving man of American legend, gave his all to drill holes faster than the steam-powered drilling machine poised to replace him. In the case of American school teachers, it would appear some are keen to ride their profession's equivalent of the drilling machine to the finish line.

A new poll commissioned by the nonprofit Walton Family Foundation and conducted by Impact Research recently gauged teachers' level of adoption of the AI chat bot ChatGPT.

Of the 1,002 K-12 teachers surveyed from Feb. 2-7, 51% of respondents said they were using the technology to perform their duties. Impact Research noted that this was especially true of black (69%) and Latino (69%) teachers.

Teachers are not just using the technology to supplement their efforts. In many cases, they're having ChatGPT do much of the heavy-lifting all on its own.

"Three in ten teachers have used it for lesson planning (30%), coming up with creative ideas for classes (30%), and building background knowledge for lessons and classes (27%)," reported Impact Research.

Middle-school and high-school teachers are more likely to have thrown in the proverbial sledgehammer, with 38% and 35% of those surveyed having used ChatGPT for lesson planning, respectively. The same cadre also uses the technology to brainstorm for ideas (38% and 34%) and "build background knowledge" (31% and 34%), far more than pre-K and elementary-school teachers.

Unsurprisingly, 88% of teachers unburdened of much of their responsibilities reported that ChatGPT has had a positive impact. 76% of teachers noted that the technology will be important to integrate into schooling in the future, and another 77% agreed it would "help them grow as teachers."

Education Week reported in January that some teachers advocating for ChatGPT "say that the tool can save them hours of work, freeing up time for student interactions or their personal life."

Holdouts who find value in the work they've been paid to do claim that deferring to ChatGPT — whose designers have restricted it to a narrow worldview — will strip away some of the creative and rewarding aspects of the job.

"To me, lesson planning is the fun part. I don’t want to hand that over to a chat bot," said Madi Saenz-Payne, an English/language arts teacher in California. "It takes the human side out of it. ... Making so much of [teaching] automated — I feel like you lose some of the joy of it."

It appears Saenz-Payne is in the minority, granted 63% of teachers agreed that "ChatGPT is just another example of why we can't keep doing things the old way for schools in the modern world."

Suresh Prabu, chancellor of India's Rishihood University, and his vice chancellor, Shobhit Mathur, recently discussed in the Economic Times the impact ChatGPT may ultimately have on the teaching profession.

They noted, "AI-based natural language chatbots are much advanced. They will become our very own personalised all-knowing teachers available to us all the time. The chatbot can crunch tremendous amounts of information available to it, draw inferences from them and create persuasive arguments in a personalised manner based on human inputs."

With a personal teacher on hand, flesh-and-bone instructors may have to "reinvent" themselves, possibly into "'meta-teachers' for which they will need to be trained."

According to the two university administrators, teachers may end up having to "teach the purpose of learning, what is worth learning and how to learn."

Stephen Lockyer, a primary school teacher in West London, is amenable to this sort of reinvention, claiming, "Your lesson plans are your recipe — you still need a chef. You still need a teacher to make that recipe come alive.

"If you’ve got a plan that’s bare bones that you can build on and flesh out and make wonderful, then that’ll save so much time," added Lockyer.

It's unclear whether teachers should receive the same pay and benefits for "chef" work.

Keith Kindred, a social studies teacher at South Lyon East High School near Detroit, Michigan, doesn't think teachers need to panic just yet.

Kindred said on Michigan Radio, "ChatGPT and other AI applications can clearly do some pretty amazing things and definitely save time, but what it produces — for students and teachers — is not 'off the shelf' ready. It lacks, not only the human touch, but the depth of understanding and nuance that only human brains can generate."

Were learning to migrate nationwide from brick-and-mortar classrooms to the metaverse, a human touch may not be missed, particularly if new generations never felt it.

Sheila Jagannathan, a manager at the World Bank, suggested in a recent World Economic Forum piece that the "metaverse facilitates an immersive campus life, where learners wearing VR headsets enter the virtual campus or university to learn, explore, and socialize. In this digital space, for example, learners can delve into different learning pods, visit libraries and breakout rooms, meet coaches and counselors, and hang out with peers."

While the teachers' unions may be able to slow the transition to virtual classrooms, teachers' adoption of their potential replacements may expedite the process overall.

"We are only at the very beginning of seeing how this can unlock learning," Romy Drucker, director of the K-12 Education Program at the Walton Family Foundation, told Axios. "What we see in the data is that teachers need better tools and resources to meet this moment, and that's why they're among the earliest adopters of ChatGPT."

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In Canceling Gifted Education In New York City, The Left Tells Parents Yet Again: Your Kids Belong To Us

If you want to know who controls public schools, Democrats have an answer for you, and they're increasingly direct about conveying it: The far left does.

New York Denying School To Children Is Child Abuse

A parent who refuses to provide a decent education for his children, who simply ignores the need, is guilty of child abuse; a government that does the same is no less guilty.