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Letter: On Tuesday, ‘supervisors will decide on yet another attack’ on rural crescent

The following letter to the editor is from Charlie Grymes, Prince William Conservation Alliance chairman: 


On March 6, the county supervisors will decide on yet another attack against the urban growth boundary adopted in 1998.  A developer has requested a Comprehensive Plan Amendment for a subdivision in the Rural Area, so 108 houses could be constructed on a parcel planned for 32 homes.

This is the third attempt to “bust the Rural Area” at that site.  The speculator purchased the land in 2003, long after he knew the allowed density was for 32 homes. 

You can make a nice profit building 32 homes on property bought with the land prices from 15 years ago.  Evidently, a nice profit is not enough for some developers.  Changing the county’s zoning on that parcel since 1998 is needed for more, more, more.

Supervisors previously rejected amending the Comprehensive Plan at this site because adding 76 unplanned houses there would provide no public benefits.  The private developer would get windfall benefits, while the public would get stuck with the costs of sprawl.

Sprawl is “dumb growth.”  It ultimately increases property taxes, because it is more expensive to provide public services (fire/police stations, for example).

That’s why the supervisors adopted the Rural Area and Development Area boundaries in 1998.  Voters were aroused by steadily increasing property taxes.  The county’s population had boomed, and it was clear that focusing growth in the Development Area would minimize the costs to provide new public infrastructure.

Now the supervisors are being asked to change the course followed for the last 20 years, start allowing unplanned growth in the Rural Area, and eventually increase property taxes to support scattered development.

The “Mid-County Park & Estate Homes” development being considered on March 6 is not a proposal for a park.  It’s a proposal to authorize unplanned houses, to trigger a surge of land speculation in the Rural Area, and to repeat the tax headache face by supervisors in 1998.

The supervisors should reject this development proposal – for the third time.

Letter: ‘If we as a civilized society cannot regulate guns…why even bother with democracy at all?’

The following letter is submitted Vangie Williams, a candidate for in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District which includes Prince William and Stafford counties, a seat held today by Republican Rob Wittman.

Dear Editor,

The wrong direction.

All I can think is that we’re heading in the wrong direction when it comes to gun violence. The tragedy in Parkland, Fla. is just another in a long series of mass shootings to which we have built an immunity, much like the common cold – we feel it for 24 hours and then everything is back to normal. But it’s not back to normal. Families are shattered. Futures are destroyed. An unending and unimaginable lifetime of pain settles in on those who have lost a loved one.

I feel their pain because I have lost a family member to gun violence. That’s why I know we’re going in the wrong direction when it comes to guns.

I think it’s important to start any conversation with the one, immutable and not-so-popular fact about guns: they’re not going away. There’s a constitutional amendment that says you have the right to own guns. And seeing that state legislatures can’t even pass the Equal Rights Amendment despite being given 40+ years, I don’t think any effort to repeal the Second Amendment has a snowball’s chance in hell. So, let’s be adults and take the unrealistic idea of banning guns altogether off the table and talk about the real “who” and “what”.

I want to start by talking about the “who”.

The congressman who currently represents the 1st District of Virginia, Rob Wittman, has received $15,000 from the NRA political action committee in cash contributions. This amount doesn’t take into account how much money he’s received from individuals at the behest of the NRA nor does it take into account how much independent expenditure money has been spent on Wittman’s behalf. None of this is shocking since he’s more than happy to carry their water legislatively.

In fact, Rob Wittman is one of the few in the House who is willing to co-sponsor something called the SHARE Act (HR 3668). The acronym for this legislation sounds all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it? What it stands for is the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act. Again, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Well, titles can be deceiving. It legalizes concealed weapons on federal lands, removes restrictions on the use of silencers and flash suppressors and, worst of all, it prevents the ATF from classifying ammunition as being “armor piercing”.

Rob Wittman, the self-proclaimed friend of law enforcement, wants more cop-killer bullets out on the streets. What part of Rob Wittman’s mind says, “how can we increase the damage these bullets do when people get shot?” Rob Wittman isn’t just wrong, he’s part of the problem.

Now let’s talk about the “how.”

As I mentioned before, people absolutely have a constitutional right to own a gun. However, I think it has become crystal clear that we need to place common sense regulations on aspects of gun ownership. Right away I can hear people all over the 1st District (including my own relatives) saying, “how dare you talk about regulating my right to own a gun!”

I would like to point out that, first, we already regulate rights guaranteed by the Constitution. We’re not talking about breaking new ground here. The right to vote is heavily regulated.

Furthermore, caveats of regulation have been placed on the right to freedom of speech and freedom to assemble. Now I’m sure that someone will trot out the old “slippery slope” chestnut in response. To them I would simply say that if we as a civilized society cannot regulate guns – machines that were designed with the sole purpose of ending life – then why even bother with democracy at all?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the marrow in the bones of our democracy. And, after all, isn’t life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness what was taken from the victims in Parkland, Florida?

Letter: ‘Somehow my grandparent’s era produced “The Greatest Generation” and no school shooters’

The following is a letter to the editor from Bill Card, a former Chairman of the Prince William County Republican Committee: 

Dear Editor,

I’m 64 years old and I remember participating in school drills where we got under our desks to protect ourselves from fallout following a Soviet nuclear attack.  We didn’t have active shooter drills because there weren’t any active shooters.  Things were different then and a solution to Wednesday’s horrific shootings lies in analyzing those differences and correcting them as a Nation. 

The biggest single difference between those days and today was the upheaval that began in the Sixties and has continued unabated ever since.  We have been fed a steady diet of liberal nonsense that continues to this very day.  This assault on our culture, our values, and the very concepts of right and wrong has impacted our youth in particular.  A person who is brought up with appropriate boundaries, steeped in a sense of decency, good social skills, and manners just doesn’t end up on the evening news in handcuffs.  

The miscreants who commit these heinous acts don’t have the same heroes that we had in my youth.  Our sports figures weren’t drug addled millionaires and felons.  Our songs weren’t rated “R.” Movies and television didn’t exhibit graphic violence and we played outside.  An unusually large number of people attended worship services on Sunday.  There were no “gun free zones.” We didn’t speak in the stilted and non-descriptive politically correct terms – we called out the weird, morally bankrupt, and evil. 

Wednesday’s shooter was the boy who was “most likely to commit mass murder” as described by the children who knew him.  A quick Google search on “school shooter psychological profile” returns a surprising array of articles that have a lot in common (and they barely mention guns).  There are answers. 

Somehow my grandparent’s era produced “The Greatest Generation” and no school shooters.  Our solution to today’s problems lie in a return to the virtues of the past. 

Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  We’ve tried it the liberal way and lost – why not God’s way?

Kindest Regards,

Bill Card
Prince William County

‘I just subscribed to Potomac Local and wanted to commend you for your piece on the homeless camps on the Parsons property’

We received this letter to the editor regarding our coverage of a new commuter parking garage that could be built on a property where homeless campers live.

“Hi Uriah, I just subscribed to Potomac Local and wanted to commend you for your piece on the homeless camps on the Parsons property.

Several of us in our church has been for the past 5-6 years working with individuals living there. We were able to help two men get out of the woods and live in studio apartments. Certainly, there are different personalities int the woods, some more than others interested in finding sustainable housing. But it’s been my experience that many have suffered or are suffering from emotional problems, substance abuse, and/or criminal records that make it difficult to find work.

Mr. Parsons has been a blessing over these years in letting the homeless use his property. Trash has become more of a problem. We have, in the past, come in with trucks to remove trash.

There has been an increase in transients as other campsites have been closed. I know people who go out of their way to keep their camp areas clean. But overall, its gone downhill.

I’ve met with and gone to numerous meetings over the past couple of weeks on this issue and while there are people with good hearts in the relevant government offices and in the non-profits, I have not heard of a comprehensive approach to assist the 30, 40, or 50 people (numbers vary) that will have to leave the Parsons property. Existing programs to help the homeless have some real limitations. While there are programs being developed, how effective they’ll will be still remain to be seen.

It will be interesting to hear from the county and the non-profits concerning the exact number of people they helped find new living space by March 1.

Thanks again for providing some good and much-needed coverage of what’s going on in our area.”

Rich Garon

For us in local news, Facebook is like a roller coaster ride

You may have missed our Facebook posts over the weekend.

Our social media posting service had a hiccup.

Some of our content was posted to Facebook multiple times. By Sunday, nearly all of the content that we had posted on our Facebook page over the course of the last year had disappeared.

Thankfully, by Monday night the content had returned. So did our ability to automatically post content to Facebook (thanks, Facebook, for fixing whatever it is that was broken).

Those who follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our emails, or visit the homepage did not see a disruption.

I’ve been paying close attention to Facebook since last fall when I was invited to mingle with other journalists from the Washington, D.C. area at the Facebook Journalism Project. It was day-long meeting in Washington to discuss how the social network is responding to its critics when it comes to accusations of “fake news,” and it was an opportunity to show journalists how to use new tools on Facebook to use to reach new audiences and to produce better journalism.

I’ve grown Potomac Local with the help of Facebook. I’ve used the social networking service to share on content since we launched in 2010, I’ve purchased ads on the service to increase the number of local Facebook users who need to be aware of Potomac Local, and I’ve boosted our advertising clients’ posts on the social network.

In recent weeks, it has been disheartening to learn that Facebook will limit the news posts users will see when they log into Facebook. After hearing that news, I urged our readers to sign up for our emails so they never miss a post.

If you want to make sure you keep seeing us on Facebook, there’s also a way to do that, too.

The changes for Facebook have many wondering if the social network is trying to figure out a path forward. Others question whether or not the move to limit the amount of news content you see is so the company can expand into markets without a free press, like China.

Monday brought even more Facebook news, as the social network announced that it now wants to show more local news to its users. That’s good news for people like me, other local independent journalists, and of course Potomac Local fans.

It was the best news from Facebook I had heard in weeks.

But then I had to remind myself that only a week ago Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said users should expect less news, and more feel-good content, as well as content posted by friends and family.

Keeping up with all of this has been a rollercoaster ride. But, it’s part of the changing business local digital media and local news.

Uriah Kiser is the founder and publisher of Potomac Local.

Surovell: Redistricting needed to break partisan gridlock

Four Big Issues No One is Discussing This Election Cycle
Virginians go to the polls in three weeks and if you followed the news cycle, you would think that the next General Assembly Session is going to be all about Confederate Statutes, street gangs, and natural gas pipelines – none of which is accurate. Here are four big issues facing Virginia that have been missing in action this cycle.

Hyper-partisan legislative districts are at the root the partisan gridlock we see today. While the Senate Democratic Caucus drew Virginia’s Senate districts in 2010, Virginia’s congressional and legislative districts were otherwise drawn by Republicans majorities with the cooperation of Republican governor’s in 2000 and 2010. Democratic voters have been crammed into a small number of seats and Virginia’s Congressional and House of Delegates districts are way out of proportion to Virginia’s actual voting.

Virginia’s next Governor will participate in Virginia’s next redistricting process. Ralph Northam and I have repeatedly endorsed and voted for non-partisan redistricting which would go a long way towards voters picking their leaders instead of leaders picking their voters.

Surovell: SCC should back efforts to bury power lines

As we enter hurricane season, I start to get questions about burying utility lines.  We are making limited progress in Virginia but efforts hit a setback last week.

In communities built since the mid-1980’s all utilities are underground.  In the older parts of Northern Virginia, such as where we live here in Eastern Fairfax and Prince William Counties, nearly all utilities are above ground. 

In June, 2012, Northern Virginia was rocked by a Derecho that stormed in from Chicago, killed 22 people and caused over $2.9 billion in damage. Our older infrastructure, coupled with our heavy older and established tree canopy caused major utility outages.  In the Derecho’s aftermath, I heard calls through my district for undergrounding of utility lines.  I even held a townhall focused exclusively on undergrounding power lines. 

In the 2014 General Assembly Session, the General Assembly passed legislation declaring power line undergrounding in the public interest and authorizing Dominion Power to spend no more than $200 million per year and recover up to $2 billion from ratepayers to underground electrical lines but required the effort to focus on lines that were particularly prone to outages.  Dominion’s methodology focuses on lines that have filed nine or more times in the last ten years.

Unfortunately, this program does not bury cable or phone lines due to problems with cost, coordination, and easements.   I am exploring methods communities could partner to achieve this, but it is a very difficult problem.  Also, none of this addresses undergrounding commercial utilities which is something that is only funded by localities is desperately need on Route 1, and I will write about that separately in the future.  (more…)

Let’s transform VRE from a commuter rail system into a run-trains-throughout-the-day transit system

Editors note: Potomac Local occasionally publishes opinion letters from our readers that address issues of broad community impact.

On September 7, a public meeting at the Manassas Park Community Center will highlight proposals to construct a new four-lane bypass around Manassas. 

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), City of Manassas, and Prince William County are now proposing solutions for traffic congestion on Route 28 (see  All the choices appear to be based on what they’ve done in the past.

“Build more roads” has been the solution to Northern Virginia traffic congestion since the Shirley Highway (now Interstate-95) was built to the Occoquan River in 1949 and expanded to four lanes in 1952.

How’s that worked, so far?  Is traffic flowing smoothly.  Think traditional solutions will fix future problems too?

It is now 2017.  Is it smart to assume Northern Virginia will continue its pattern of sprawl development, based on cars, for another 65 years – so we should build even more roads?

Hmmm, let’s pretend it is 1910.  Should we assume that the horse-and-buggy business would boom for another 65 years and build more stables? (more…)

‘I was horrified to see the hands raised in opposition to adding gender identity and sexual orientation to the non-discrimination policy for students and employees’

From an email: 

I attended the June 21 PWCS School Board meeting looking for inspiration at a time of opportunity for our County to demonstrate its values. A vote against non-discrimination is a vote for discrimination. I was horrified to see the hands raised in opposition of adding gender identity and sexual orientation to the Non-Discrimination Policy for students and employees. 
I feel pity for the opposing members that history will record their objection to protecting vulnerable students and employees, and that their legacies will be tainted by a burning and panicked hatred of Chairman Sawyers, a leader who has shown courage and foresight amidst an onslaught of outrageous attacks. 
Erika Bukva
Prince William County

P-Nats stadium ‘numbers concerning the overall cost of site work…keep changing’

An email from Roger Snyder, of Prince William County: 

“[Thursday] night the Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association (WPCCA) hosted a “P-Nats Forum” at Potomac Shores. Seth Silber (P-Nats), Tom Sebastian (JBG) and Frank Principi (PWC) gave the same power point presentation made before the Chamber (twice) and the Committee of 100. The floor was then opened for questions with Principi controlling the q&a portion. JBG paid for a catered “reception” before the meeting that included gourmet appetizers, wine & beer. Several requests were made for audience support of the deal, including coming to the June 20 Board meeting to oppose the public referendum. Below are my observations and comments:


1. Once again, JBG failed to mention that it is leasing the land for the stadium charging a considerable fee. When this fact came up in response to a question, Sebastian told the audience that JBG had offered to sell the land, but PWC wasn’t interested. Previously, JBG had said the deal wouldn’t work with a land sale, that it “…had to be a lease”.

2. JBG’s power point slide (Copy attached) stated that JBG will “Provide land and conduct all site work (approximately $14 million net)”. This is a disingenuous statement at best. In fact, PWC/P-Nats will lease the land and PWC & the P-Nats will pay for most of the site work ($11 million) even though JBG will do the site work.

‘It does not take a real estate expert to understand that a fire and rescue station located in a residential neighborhood lowers home values’

Based on the results of the response time analysis, I fully support the city’s effort to build a new fire and rescue station to serve the southern portion of the city and the airport.

Several months ago, when I received news that Lee Manor Park located at 9650 Shannon Lane, across the street from our house, was one of the proposed locations for a new fire and rescue station, my wife and I got concerned because location is parkland in a residential neighborhood adjacent to George C. Round Elementary School. On Thursday of last week, I was informed that the city was moving forward with the new fire and rescue station at Lee Manor Park. 

I spent a better part of my weekend canvassing my neighborhood (Lee Manor), as well as other neighborhoods nearby the location of the proposed fire and rescue station to receive public input from the neighborhoods impacted by the new fire and rescue station.  Every person I spoke to, including Delegate Jackson Miller, is strongly opposed to the idea of having a fire and rescue station in the location of Lee Manor Park next to George C. Round Elementary School. (more…)

Why is the Woodbridge voter registration office on the chopping block?

Several days ago, I was shocked to learn that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has given notice to terminate its arrangement with the Prince William County Registrar at the Caton Hill DMV Office. I could not believe what I was hearing.

Voter participation is one of the most important things in any democracy but not all citizens are given equal access to that franchise- and we are learning that this week here in Woodbridge. Virginia has a long history in this area and none of it has been positive.

A few precincts in Woodbridge actually became nationally known because of four to five hour long lines in order to cast a vote in the 2012 election. Of course those also happened to be the precincts with the largest percentage of minority voters, and the precincts where President Obama was expected to be the strongest.

Now once again, Woodbridge voters are being targeted by Virginia in a way that could hamper attempts to turn our voters out. For the last decade the one refuge from potentially long lines on election day was the option to vote early at the DMV office in Woodbridge. In Virginia, early voters must state a reason in order to vote- but most residents in our area qualify for either expecting to leave Prince William County at any time on election day or having a combined work/commute schedule on election day that exceeds 11 hours.

As residents have learned of this option, turnout has increased at the Woodbridge DMV every year and turnout in our area continues to rise- especially for important off year elections. I support no excuse needed absentee voting to raise turnout even higher. But despite all of that somehow the Commissioner of DMV has decided that the Commonwealth will close our voter registration and early vote center at the Woodbridge DMV.

I’m absolutely appalled that this is even being discussed and without any notice or input from our community. As your next State Delegate, I pledge to introduce legislation that would force all state agencies to accommodate early voting when requested by the locality. This is a no brainer decision, and will save local taxpayer dollars. We can not allow thousands of voters to be silenced.

Here in the Route 1 corridor most of our residents work jobs and have long commutes- we need to make it easy for them to participate in voting, not harder. Just last year Alabama made national news for closing its opportunities for early voting in the areas with the most minority voters.

Please join me in raising our voices together now to ensure Virginia- and specifically those of us in southern Prince William County- does not follow that example. Virginia’s history may be voter suppression, but let’s make our future into being a state that encourages voter participation. If you agree I hope you will join my campaign by visiting my website.

‘I am not convinced this is safe for our community or its water’

I believe that everyone should have clean drinking water.

So, I was deeply disturbed when I found out that homeowners surrounding Dominion Energy’s Possum Point power plant had found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in their wells. I was shocked to also find out that Dominion stores a byproduct of burning coal — toxic coal ash — in onsite man-made ponds with less protection beneath them than would be required for any household waste landfill.

I found out these facts when I attended one of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s hearings on the Possum Point plant a few weeks ago, and since then I’ve grown more concerned about our water. These holding ponds were built in 1988, haven’t been tested since, and wouldn’t meet current Environmental Protection Agency standards to prevent leaks if built today. (more…)

‘It is a sad day when we use words like bigot and white supremacists…because of differing political views’

If Harry Wiggins didn’t single handedly hand over the election to Jackson Miller, he certainly helped him along to victory.

Wiggins, the Chairman of Prince William’s Democratic Committee on Tuesday likened Miller — a long-serving Republican in the House of Delegates, past Manassas City Counselor, and a former police officer in Arlington and Prince William counties — to President Trump, and called both white supremacists.

Residents both black and white have denounced his statement.

“The official comment from the [Prince William County] Democratic Chair may have just solidified my undecided vote for Mr. Miller. The name-calling in national politics is bad enough. If Mr. Wiggins wishes to bring that style of politics to [Prince William County], I will vote against his candidate every time,” James Johnson, of Bristow posted to Facebook.

Wiggins’s comments plunge our community deeper into the political divide, escalating our county into what many see the new national political status quo of an angry, polarized nation full of discontent and hate. (more…)

‘Name the new elementary school the Betty D. Covington Elementary School’

From Tim Singstock, of Montclair:

The community has engaged in debate over naming the new elementary school under construction in the Potomac Shores Community. Prince William County is blessed to have two wonderful choices for the school naming: Betty Covington and John Harper.

I met Mr. Harper and his wife at the 2016 NAACP dinner in Quantico. As an Army veteran and son of a Vietnam Veteran, I honor Mr. Harper’s military and combat service. (more…)

Where’s the news about Virginia’s General Assembly?

Submitted by Kay Larrieu: 

I’m really frustrated about finding out what is happening in the Virginia General Assembly.  Surely, while it is in session, you could publish what’s going on, what’s up for a vote, how local delegates are voting?  

Why is it so difficult to come by this sort of news, and yet what’s more important than becoming engaged in civic affairs?

I don’t see the logic of omitting this sort of news unless one doesn’t want citizens to know what is going on.

Editor’s note: Potomac Local is limited by our current level of financial support on the type and amount of news we can cover (Advertising pays the bills, and we don’t charge a subscription fee at this time, so it’s a free content buffet). We publish stories from VCU Capital News Service from time to time provided the stories are about issues and legislators from our area. 

‘My number one legislative priority will be prohibiting drivers from having mobile phones in their hands while driving’

On Wednesday, January 11, the 2017 Session of the General Assembly Session will gavel in for a 45-day “short” session. I am looking forward to a very busy six weeks and would like to update you on my plans for session. I am introducing nearly 40 bills, but here are a few highlights.

First, lagging state revenues continue to limit legislative initiatives and create funding priorities. The Virginia State Police is hemorrhaging Troopers due to lagging pay and a planned two percent raise for teachers and state employees was delayed after anticipated revenues fell short. They will be a priority this year.

My number one legislative priority will be prohibiting drivers from having mobile phones in their hands while driving. Between January 1 and July 1 of 2016, traffic fatalities in the United States were up by 10% – for the first time in 50 years. Most experts attribute this to distracted driving. Anyone driving our roads only has to look at the vehicle next to them to realize this is a problem that requires attention. (more…)

‘If you believe that our testing culture has gotten out of control and that we need to meet the basic needs of movement and play for young children then please…attend the Pep Rally’


I am writing to tell you about an exciting event happening at the [Prince William County] School Board meeting on January 27, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. My name is Barbara Larrimore and I have three young children; two of which are attending Lake Ridge Elementary School. Through watching and volunteering at the school, hours of research, and calling other counties and highly ranked schools in the state of Virginia, that PWC is not allowing best practices for our youngest citizens. 

American Academy of Pediatrics states that children need 60 minutes of physical activity a day.  Half of our children’s waking hours are spent at school so they should be getting 30 minutes of physical activity a day (recess or P.E.).  On most days, out of the 6.5 hours, they spend in school, my children will only get 15 minutes of physical activity. This is a staggeringly low number for my exuberant five and eight-year-old.
Please, if you believe that our testing culture has gotten out of control and that we need to meet the basic needs of movement and play for young children then please…attend the Pep Rally for more recess on January 27, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. at the school board meeting!  Feel free to share this with your family and friends. 

‘…I have never felt so harassed when I go shopping like I have in PWC’


“I have been a resident of eastern [Prince William County] since 2008 and I’ve seen the county undergo many changes. What has become concerning to me is the panhandling situation. I come from NYC and have spent time in DC and I have never felt so harassed when I go shopping like I have in PWC. In the last month every time I visited Walmart, Target, Big Lots, 7-11, Hobby Lobby, etc I have been approach[ed] at MY Vehicle with a panhandle asking for money. It’s as if they are just waiting and don’t even give you a chance to exit your vehicle. I want to know what are the laws in the county on panhandling? Are other residents feeling harassed too? What are officials doing to stop this? Are they even aware of this problem? …Thank you in advance for addressing my concern.”

From Prince William County spokesman Jason Grant: 

“…the County’s panhandling ordinances were repealed for legal reasons. Attached is a handout that the County Attorney’s Office provided on the issue.”

‘How would a loving dad react if he saw a grown man follow his nine-year-old daughter into a bathroom’

We got this statement from Delegate Bob Marshall about his new bathroom bill HB 1612 which he says  will “protect privacy in facilities normally separated by sex” in government-owned or rented buildings.

Agree with him or disagree with him? Leave it in the comments. 

How would a loving dad react if he saw a grown man follow his nine-year-old daughter into a bathroom at a state park?  Would parents want their 14-year-old daughters on the school swim team taking showers with 17-year-old biological males in a public school locker room?  Would women feel safe stopping at an Interstate rest stop knowing biological males could use the women’s bathroom?

Because identifying as transgender is about how an individual perceives themselves how can a biological female third party possibly distinguish between a transgender individual who means no harm and a male predator using the ladies room who does intend harm?

It is because of situations like this that more than six hundred parents and students in Prince William County and many more in Fairfax County attended meetings to oppose changes in school policies which would have allowed biological males to use the bathrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms, and showers set aside for females, and vice-versa.  

In response to that outpouring of concern for the safety and privacy of our children, I have introduced HB 1612 to preserve current law to prevent schools and government entities from changing policies that protect privacy in facilities normally separated by sex.


Reader: Schools should wait for Supreme Court, Virginia Supreme Court to rule on LGBT matter


School Board Should Wait For The Courts
By Carrie Beliles, resident of Triangle, VA
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Word count: 638

Next week, the Prince William School Board will vote on a major policy proposal to add “gender identity” to the school’s non-discrimination policy. Enacting this new policy could allow transgender faculty and students to choose the bathroom, locker room, showers and athletic team participation of their preferred choice, regardless of current biological anatomy.

My family moved to Prince William County because it is a welcoming and compassionate place for all people. I enjoy that multiple cultures and people with diverse belief backgrounds all live together in relative harmony. While I believe we should protect transgender students from harassment and discrimination, this policy proposal could have far-reaching ramifications.

This gender identity policy is being debated in Courts all across the nation, and is even on its way to the Virginia Supreme Court. In August, a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Obama’s guidance directive on the use of bathrooms by transgender students, (State of Texas et al v. United States of America). Also in August, the U.S. Supreme Court halted a lawsuit by a student in Gloucester County, Virginia, effectively ruling that the County did not have to open up their bathrooms, locker rooms and showers to opposite gender students (G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board). Earlier this year, 51 families in Illinois (the district in which I graduated High School, Palatine High School) filed suit against two federal agencies and Township High School District 211 on this issue, as well (Students and Parents for Privacy, et al v. United States Departments of Education and Justice, Township High School District 211, and Cook County, Illinois).On Monday, the Virginia Supreme Court decided to take up a challenge to Fairfax County’s “gender identity” policy change (Andrea Lafferty, et al, v. School Board of Fairfax County). This is the very same policy being voted and considered by the School Board on September 21 in Prince William.

Moving forward with this policy now in Prince William could open up the County to frivolous lawsuits and protracted litigation that drain taxpayer resources that could be allocated to classrooms across the county. While the constitutionality of this policy change is debated in the courts, Prince William School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers should put this on hold until the Supreme Court and the Virginia Supreme Court have ruled on this matter.

In law school, I was taught the importance of judicial precedence in how the law is administered; which means that previous rulings have significant sway on future rulings. Judicial precedent provides a blueprint for how a law should be implemented and interpreted. Precedent will be created by the US Supreme Court and Virginia Supreme Court very soon. The Prince William School Board should align itself with judicial precedent as the way forward on this issue.

If the School Board believes some action is necessary in the here and now, they should do three things: 1) evaluate the track-record of transgender welfare and determine if a problem exists; 2) take their time to debate implementation logistics and unintended consequences of this policy change; and 3) wait for the Supreme Court and Virginia Supreme Court to rule on this matter.

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 not be cited as a problem at this time. This is good news.

To summarize, in order to protect our County from unnecessary lawsuits and to avoid the embarrassing possibility of a policy reversal, School Board Chairman Sawyers should push this vote to a later date allowing higher judicial precedent to pave a smoother way for our community.

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