On the second Tuesday of every month for about two years, members of Equality Loudoun have attended the Loudoun County School Board meetings and urged the board to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the school system’s non-discrimination policy. There was a vote on the measure awhile ago and conservatives prevented passage, but the effort has continued in hopes of the board eventually taking another one with a different result. While that hasn’t happened yet, there was a major step towards progress at last night’s board meeting.
I was one of the people who spoke at last night’s meeting and I noticed several board members nodding in agreement as I spoke about the need to prevent discrimination– especially Joy Maloney. We had a wide variety of other people who told personal stories about why protections for the LGBT community are important.
Later in the meeting, the board was debating the legislative agenda it wanted to present to Loudoun’s General Assembly delegation for the upcoming session. During the discussion, Maloney made a motion to include support for state legislation that would include a ban on discriminating against the LGBT community when it comes to public employment. This would apply to local employees like teachers as well and ended up passing on a four to three vote.
This is a huge show of support for the LGBT community in Loudoun and Maloney even credited all the speakers the board’s been hearing from as a reminder that this is an important issue to the general public. That being said, it’s worth noting that the legislation still has to pass the General Assembly. While it’s been passed by the state senate, it hasn’t even made it out of committee in the House of Delegates.
In the moments after the vote, there was definitely a lot of excitement among supporters of basic equality. As the situation sunk in, however, I was also reminded by a school board candidate that the measures passed largely because Eric DeKenipp recently resigned and Jill Turgeon wasn’t present for the meeting (both oppose equality). Those two absences gave supporters of LGBT equality a majority and they were therefore able to get the measure passed.
It was brilliant of Maloney to be aware of the fact that she’s be able to get the votes, but protecting civil rights shouldn’t have to depend on school board members being absent. We therefore have to work to elect supporters of equality like Ian Serotkin to the board next year. In the meantime, let’s enjoy this step towards progress.