A Fairfax County, Va., mom sharply criticized the school board for a proposed rule which could suspend or expel students for “maliciously misgendering” their peers, calling the board’s actions a “move toward totalitarianism.”
“I think it’s inappropriate, completely, for the school to be involved in something so far outside of general education for children,” Stephanie Lundquist-Arora, who has three sons in the Fairfax County Public Schools system, told Fox News Digital.
“It’s clearly an activist board we have. It’s basically a totalitarian regime. They like to ban everything they’re against, and mandate everything they’re for,” she said.
The board of the Fairfax County Public Schools in the northern Virginia city is voting on updates to the Students Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) handbook on May 26, including updated rules that make “malicious deadnaming” and “malicious misgendering” of classmates a Level 4 offense. Violation of the rule allows for a suspension up to five days “if frequency and intensity are present.”
“The point of education is reading, writing, math, science, factual history. It’s not to get lessons in pronouns,” she said.
America First Legal Senior Advisor Ian Prior said the rule is “quite likely unconstitutional on a number of levels.”
“You are compelling students to speak in a way that may violate their conscience, and may violate parental rights under the 14th Amendment,” he told Fox News Digital.
Prior said the school board has shown “a complete disrespect for the rule of law, not rushing into things that may be unconstitutional, and will certainly be unpopular with large swaths of the community.”
“The priorities of these school systems are all completely out of whack,” he said. “They should be laser-focused on learning loss, on how to deal with the effects of COVID, of the shutdown. They always want to talk about equity – there’s nothing more important than ensuring kids are learning to read, that kids are learning math, that kids are learning science, and making sure they’re caught up.”
Lundquist-Arora said her beliefs on the proposed policies are independent from her feelings about the LGBTQ+ community, and she personally strives to use preferred pronouns and names.
“But it is not the government’s job (FCPS Board in this case) to mandate all it is for and ban all that it opposes,” she said. “That is totalitarianism.”
She added that there are many others who “have religious convictions that disagree with pronoun use contrary to one’s biological sex.”
“While I am not among them, I am a fervent supporter of the First Amendment,” she added, noting that the proposed change could open the school up to potential lawsuits at the expense of the taxpayer.
“I believe that the education system has gone off course,” she said. “I have zero tolerance for bullying, but the gender identification issue is a political one, and I think it is distracting us from the main mission of schools – to educate our children in the fundamentals.”
Fox News’ Jon Brown contributed to this report.