School Board meeting
Tuesday, April 12
The School Board Legislative and Policy Committee is going forward with plans to create a policy restricting the content of student drama productions – and some members have made it known that they want to expand their restrictions to student clubs (specifically Gay-Straight Alliances); student publications; and especially the curriculum.
Based on comments by board members at the April 7 meeting of the Legislative and Policy Committee, it is clear that what these members really want to do is to prohibit the expression of a particular viewpoint that they happen to disagree with. If they didn’t have to deal with legal obstacles, what they would prefer to do is write a policy that explicitly prohibits the viewpoint that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are as they were created to be, and are entitled to equality and respect. That viewpoint is what they found objectionable about the play “Offsides,” and it is what they find objectionable about Gay-Straight Alliances.
These board members have made their personal viewpoints clear in previous meetings and remarks to the media by using such words as “immorality” and “perversion” in reference to sexual difference, and they would like to find a way to impose these personal viewpoints on the community they are supposed to be serving, a community that includes people of all sexual orientations. What every resident of Loudoun should be asking is this: if they feel entitled to impose their personal beliefs about sexuality on our schools, what’s next? How about their personal beliefs about war, or the environment? If they have personal viewpoints about the “proper” role of women in society, are they going to implement policies that discourage female students from pursuing certain careers? Committee chair Mark Nuzzaco insists that he was elected to his position because of his “moral values” and therefore that imposing them on everyone else is his job. There is no stopping point.
What should be very alarming to everyone is the apparent willingness to sacrifice the quality of the education our kids can receive in order to facilitate this viewpoint discrimination. Some members want so much to do an end run around the law that they are even willing to edit certain content out of the classics. Mark Nuzzaco wanted to know if it would be a violation of copyright law to remove content from “established plays” if it was in violation of the policy they are considering. Would this mean editing out the premarital love scene from Romeo and Juliet, because it constitutes “promoting sexuality,” or removing the “lewd language” from Chaucer? That would have to be the result if the language proposed by Warren Geurin was adopted. Bob Ohneiser remarked that what he is “fundamentally more concerned with is what happens in the classroom,” and suggested that the Curriculum Committee perform an “audit of how close are certain courses to the prurient interest line.”
Finally, these members expressed great hostility toward the Gay-Straight Alliances in our schools, suggesting that they are not actually student-initiated clubs at all, but rather vehicles created by “national political groups with an agenda” to exploit and influence impressionable youth to “experiment.” Committee member Joseph Guzman said that his concern was that these clubs “not become magnets for information and encouragement from outside groups . . creating a forum that invites influences from outside school that are contrary to the standards that we are trying to inculcate.” Bob Ohneiser wanted to know whether principals have the legal right to disband all extracurricular clubs at the end of each school year, “so there isn’t a legacy,” and also whether they can legally prohibit the dissemination of any information or literature generated by outside groups. Mark Nuzzaco conceded that they had been cautioned by counsel that the Equal Access Act allows them very little control over extracurricular clubs; however, he said that he is “not looking to invite litigation, but also not looking to escape it by not doing the job we’re here to do.” In light of his remark that he was elected to base policy on his personal beliefs, that “job” appears to be to impose discriminatory viewpoint censorship in violation of the law – if they can get away with it.
Tell them on Tuesday that they won’t get away with it.
We need people to speak, and to encourage other people to speak, at this meeting. There are enough reasonable people on the school board to end this misguided crusade, but they will only do the right thing if they recognize that we are watching, we are not going away, and we are not giving up – at any point, no matter how far they push this. If you can speak, please contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org