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Prince William Black Pastors: Revised schools discrimination policy ‘would threaten the privacy rights of our students’

The following letter to Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers was sent to use in an emailed titled “PWC BLACK PASTORS OPPOSE SCHOOL BOARD “GENDERIDENTITY” REVISION”

Dear Chairman Sawyers and School Board Members,

We are writing to express our concern and objection to Revision of Policy 060, “Nondiscrimination And Commitment To Equity”, because of its expected implementation regarding the use of private facilities by transgender students in Prince William County schools. 

This revision would update the school system’s non-discrimination policy to include “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to the group of protected classes, along with race, color, religion, national origin, and gender. Adding “gender identity” to this non-discrimination clause would allow transgender students and staff to choose the bathroom, locker room, showers and athletic team participation of their preferred choice, regardless of biological anatomy.

While you may consider this potential change as ensuring diversity within our schools, the reality is this potential policy change would threaten the privacy rights of our students. No female or male student nor teacher should be forced to use a bathroom, locker room or shower area with someone of the opposite gender simply because that individual no longer identifies with or ignores their biological anatomy.

Our concern is also that we do not recall there being a lengthy and thorough discussion of how the county plans to safely enforce such a policy change. There has been no regulatory analysis on how this policy would be implemented. There has been no discussion or meetings on making sure that sexual misconduct does not occur or that sexual predators do not take advantage of this policy change.

Finally, this policy revision would force many students to compromise their deeply-held beliefs about privacy, modesty and sexuality. This policy revision would place children in the uncomfortable position of compromising their beliefs or face disciplinary action for having those beliefs.

Our churches are politically diverse congregations in Eastern Prince William County, and represent Democrats, Republicans and Independents. It would be wrong for the Prince William County School Board to ignore the will of its people by making this change while so many citizen concerns exists within our community.

We believe that every person is created in the image of God and deserving of respect and compassion. We unequivocally denounce all violence and bullying against LGBTQ people, but this revision will result in the discrimination against the majority of our children. To deny basic privacy to our students is the suppression of their rights. Like you, we want to make sure our children can learn absent a hostile environment, such as bullying. For that reason, as parents and pastors, we are grateful for your anti-bullying policies as they stand because they promote decency and order.

The Prince William County Public Schools have conducted numerous forums and outreach events regarding discrimination and school bullying, and the issue of discrimination toward transgender students and staff has never been a problem. For years, Prince William County Public Schools have protected and accommodated transgender students and staff in a respectful, private and genuine manner, therefore no revision is needed. The changes you are considering will place the ideology of a few powerful politicians above the right to privacy for the overwhelming majority of our families. 

Therefore, we humbly request that you not pursue such a policy change.

Sincerely,

Bishop Lyle Dukes, Harvest Life Changes Church, Woodbridge

Bishop Derek Grier, Grace Church Dumfries                                            

Pastor Eric Kellum, Zion Church Woodbridge                                          

Pastor Kurt Wallace, Freedom Fellowship Church, Dale City

Pastor Stephen Oni, Christ Apostolic Church, Joy Vineyard, Woodbridge  

Pastor Sharon Fernandez, Spirit of the Living Christ Ministry, Woodbridge 

Bishop John H. Reid, III, Victory Family Outreach Ministry, Woodbridge   

Pastor Madlin Edmonds, New Creatures-in-Christ Community Church, Woodbridge

Pastor Victor Stanley, Calvary Baptist Church, Woodbridge                                 

Pastor Al Stith, Word of Life Church, International, Woodbridge

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