Republicans in Northern Virginia have a history of trying to claim they don’t support discrimination, but belittling the LGBT community and supporting policies that make them second class citizens. The latest example of this came in a League of Women Voters forum held last night for candidates running in the 42nd House of Delegates district and Springfield School Board races.
When candidates were asked what they would do to help prevent discrimination against the LGBT community, Steve Adragna claimed he didn’t want to make anyone feel as though they weren’t equal. That would have been a decent position to take even though it contradicts positions his party has taken, but he went on to claim that preventing discrimination based on someone’s gender identity would “force corporations to switch the pronouns they use for someone every six months.”
This completely diminishes the struggles facing the transgender community and helps show he clearly doesn’t actually believe everyone should be treated as equals. Just because someone is transgender doesn’t mean they’re going to change their gender “every six months.” To imply they’ll simply be changing their gender willy nilly whenever they feel like it suggests he doesn’t have respect for their true gender identity and therefore thinks they shouldn’t be protected from employers who can fire them simply for being transgender.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a Republican in Fairfax County has used a similar type of reasoning to claim there shouldn’t be laws banning discrimination based on gender identity. Tom Wilson, who currently represents the Sully District on the School Board has suggested the transgender community isn’t real and says preventing discrimination against trans people would mean he could suddenly wake up and decide to be a mother.
Ironically, both of these men constantly talk about how they’re supposedly running because they’re sick of partisan politics and they want to focus on the needs of the community instead of promoting a political agenda. Their insistence on devaluing an entire group of people and promoting an anti-LGBT agenda, however, shows they unquestionably have a right wing agenda they hope to promote while in office.
Elizabeth Schultz has also joined calls for blocking any effort to ban discrimination against the LGBT community, of course, but she makes no pretense to hide her bigotry. She’s even spoken at events sponsored by the Family Research Council, which has officially been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And as recently as last week’s school board meeting, she claimed her fellow board members were too focused on promoting a “radical social agenda” rather than providing real solutions for students.
While all of this is disappointing, Delegate Kathy Tran showed residents of the 42nd district have an opportunity to be represented by someone who actually does believe in equality. She highlighted how she supported legislation that would prevent discrimination in public housing and employment based on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, both pieces of legislation were killed in subcommittee by the Republican majority. The good news is it appears as though they would have been passed by the full House if a few extreme conservatives hadn’t prevented them from moving forward.
Laura Jane Cohen who’s running to replace Schultz on the School Board also made it clear that she supports measures that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While it was said as part of a larger discussion about One Fairfax, Laura Jane said she strongly believes every student deserves an equal opportunity for success no matter what background they came from.
What this all means is that conservatives in Northern Virginia have often tried to portray themselves as supporting equality for all, but have no problem mocking the transgender community and suggesting efforts to ban discrimination against trans people don’t deserve serious consideration.