On Tuesday of this week (October 22, 2019), Fairfax County Public Schools hosted a meeting for the community at Centreville High School entitled “Community Event on how to Support our Students in a Digital World.” Considering how Elizabeth Schultz showed up almost two hours late to a recent school board meeting and therefore missed an entire presentation from experts, teachers, administrators, parents, and students about FCPSOn (a program that deals with technology in our schools), one would think she’d want to show up to an important event in her own district that was part of Digital Citizenship Week.
Schultz couldn’t be bothered to attend the event at Centreville High School, however, because she was too busy attending an event with Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council. The event focused in on attacking the transgender community and argued that the Democrats on the school board are using “sex politics” to completely change the purpose of sex ed and destroy our community.
For those who don’t know, the Family Research Council is so extreme that it’s been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Also in attendance at the event was Ruse’s husband Austin Ruse, who has bragged about his connections to the Proud Boys — another designated hate group that’s known for promoting a white nationalist and misogynistic agenda. They’re also notorious for using physical violence to impose its views. Proud Boys members, for instance, played a roll in organizing the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville where Heather Hayer was murdered by a white nationalist.
Of course, these associations are nothing new when it comes to Elizabeth Schultz as she’s frequently promoted articles from the Daily Caller (a website that has connections to the alt-right and featured writings from the Unite the Right rally’s primary organizer) and has said wealthy Jews and “hard left advocacy organizations” using methods promoted by Jewish community organizers are coming into Fairfax from outside the community to attack her campaign and “really change the entire structure of Fairfax County.”
With all that being said, it was still a surreal experience to see how much hatred and bigotry they could jam into a two hour session.
ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE SCHOOL BOARD
Cathy Ruse started her portion of the event by saying the “board is playing sex politics” with children and pushing a transgender ideology. According to Ruse, this could be a revolution that’s as bad as the 1960s. She also suggested this was part of a larger radical social agenda and the left was treating children as “lab rats” in social experiments.
She then went on to chastise individual school board members who refused to sit idly by as anti-LGBT organizations tried to instill hatred and bigotry in Fairfax County Public Schools.
“You see Ryan McElveen, the sponsor, scolding parents from the dais and telling them they’re on the wrong side of history,” Ruse clearly said mockingly while describing the scene when anti-LGBT hoards tried to take over a school board meeting. She added that the one exception on the board at the time was Schultz, who she said is “the bravest woman I know.”
Much like how Schultz has been claiming there’s some sort of national conspiracy out to get her while they’re promoting things like making sure everybody has an opportunity to thrive, Ruse went on to suggest Fairfax is just one of the school systems that’s part of a nationwide effort to demand transgender equality.
“First they claim students are being harassed, so policies must be changed the prevent discrimination,” Ruse told the audience. “Then they demand that the only way to have safe schools is to adopt the total transgender agenda” that includes things like “opening up private spaces” and the “forced use of pronouns.”
“It’s not about anti-bullying, it’s about power and politics,” Ruse added in a statement clearly meant to imply transgender students weren’t being bullied and the school board shouldn’t really be concerned with the issue.
DISCUSSION ON SUICIDE IN THE TRANS COMMUNITY
Much like how Elizabeth Schultz has claimed she’s bullied despite having a reputation for constantly demeaning the school system’s staff and her fellow school board members, Ruse said supporters of basic equality for the transgender community are “bullying parents into harming their children.”
In other words, Ruse was saying trans kids aren’t being bullied, but it’s trans people and their allies who are actually the bullies. She wasn’t content to simply say the transgender community was bullying opponents of equality as she continued by saying “the bullies ultimate trump card is suicide.”
“Parents are told they must do this or they’ll lose their child to suicide,” the “senior fellow” for a designated hate group said. “Better to have a trans daughter than a dead son.”
She said “there’s no evidence to support this claim” that transgender people are susceptible to suicide if they’re not accepted by their community. In order to reinforce this claim, she highlighted a study that supposedly said even trans people who’ve had gender confirmation surgery are “twenty times [more likely] than non-trans people” to commit suicide. In other words, the study she decided to highlight shows suicide is an issue in the transgender community and should probably be addressed. People are therefore right to bring up the issue with parents who are trying to figure out how to respond to their child’s issues relating to gender identity.
Interestingly, Republican school board candidate Andi Bayer included mental health services as an area where the school system’s currently wasting money while discussing the budget at a recent forum. Between Bayer’s comments and Ruse’s suggestion that the risk of suicide is only being used to promote acceptance of the transgender community, it’s quite obvious Republicans do not value efforts to provide mental health services that could help students thrive and potentially save lives.
But Ruse didn’t stop there. In addition to claiming parents are being bullied into accepting transgender children, she claimed it’s actually child abuse to be accepting of the transgender community. This rhetoric is not only dangerous for transgender people, but harms students who are actually being abused. Muddying the water like this only makes it harder for students who need assistance when they’re being abused.
“TRANS THEORY IS A FRAUD” BECAUSE “GOD DOESN’T MAKE MISTAKES”
As part of Ruse’s argument for why “trans theory is a fraud,” she claimed “God doesn’t make mistakes” and “every person was born in exactly the right body.”
The belief that “God doesn’t make mistakes” is why Ruse claims it’s against Christian beliefs to use a transgender person’s correct pronouns. She highlighted how former teacher Peter Vlaming was fired after he refused to he/him/his pronouns for a transgender male in one of his classes.
Ruse claimed Vlaming’s religious beliefs were being violated because he was “refusing to use a false pronoun.” In the version of the story she told, there was nothing about the bigotry the teacher was reinforcing, but an insistence that “he explained to the school that as a Christian he believes that God made humans male and female and that to use false pronouns would deny God’s purposeful design and he just couldn’t do it. And so they fired him, for insubordination, by unanimous vote.”
“Two weeks ago he filed suit against the school for $1 million,” Ruse snidely added, “and I hope he gets every penny.”
In case people weren’t buying her religious argument, Ruse also proclaimed that “biology is not bigotry” and said science proves there are only two genders and DNA confirms this. Even if you’re willing to ignore the science that shows the brains of transgender people are more closely aligned with the gender they identify with, her argument clearly ignores the fact that there are intersex people. Previously referred to as hermaphrodites, the UN Commissioner on Human Rights defines intersex people as those “who are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.”
CRITICISM OF FCPS’s FLE PROGRAM
Ruse then transitioned into bashing the school system’s Family Life Education (FLE) program and had a lot to say about the language the curriculum used. Like many of the Republican candidates for school board, she appeared to be extremely frustrated that the material was no longer referred to as sex ed. She suggested calling it FLE was simply a way to disguise the true agenda the board and transgender community were supposedly trying to promote.
She was also absolutely furious that the term “sex assigned at birth” was included and suggested it’s a “propaganda term pushed used by transgender advocates to promote their agenda.” She claimed this meant school board was removing “the concept that human beings have a biologically decided sex of male or female” in order to suggest “you don’t have a real sex, just a placeholder that someone assigns to you.” In her opinion, this meant students would just randomly decide to change their gender on a whim.
Elizabeth Schultz later picked up on the same messaging as she said one of her big questions about protections for the transgender community included wanting to know how many times students were allowed to change their gender on school documents. Furthermore, she wondered if the school system had anyway of rejecting requests for changing a student’s recognized gender.
Ruse also complained that the abstinence portion of the FLE curriculum no longer said the word marriage, but instead suggested students should wait until they’re in long term, committed “monogamous relationship.” This apparently was unacceptable to her as it was taking marriage, which she believes has religious and moral standards, out of the discussion.
It was Ruse’s belief that FLE should also be turned into a special after school program that students could stay after school hours to attend. Perhaps realizing that Sex Ed has been a part of the education process for generations and therefore wasn’t going anywhere, she also encouraged parents to simply opt their children out of the program. This would of course not only deny them information about safe sex and reproductive health, but also single them out for ridicule from them peers.
When the taunting aspect was asked about by a member of the audience during the Q&A portion of the event, Schultz responded by saying “they’re gonna be ridiculed for the rest of their life, so they minus well get used to it now.”
This not only seemed like a rather harsh response, but it also raised a lot of questions about her response to earlier controversies she’s been involved in. After she received criticism for remarks that suggested she thought “both sides” of the Holocaust needed to be taught, for example, she claimed her remarks were really just about standing up to bullies. Oddly, she also suggested that attempts to say otherwise were really just coming from wealthy Jewish people funding the efforts of people who oppose her campaign.
SCHULTZ JOINS IN CRITIQUES OF FLE AND PROTECTIONS FOR TRANS STUDENTS
In addition to her comments referenced above, Schultz also spent a lot of her speech complaining about the FLE curriculum while making sure it was clear she didn’t support basic equality for the transgender community.
It was noteworthy that Schultz complained about the student member of the school board got to appoint four members of the FLE commission (one student per high school grade level), which she claims was unfair because her conservative voice was supposedly automatically outnumbered at least four to one.
Not only is this argument ludicrous, but it’s also very odd considering she recently spoke about how highly qualified the student school board member is and said the student will bring a valuable perspective to crucial issues. Based upon her view that the student shouldn’t be able to make appointments to the commission, however, it appears as though her remarks were only designed to make herself look good during an official school board meeting that was being televised.
SCHULTZ ON TRANSGENDER STUDENTS IN LOCKER ROOMS
As the conversation moved forward, the locker room situation got brought up. This is often where anti-LGBT folks try to cast transgender people as monsters who are always out to sexually abuse women. Schultz sent out this dog whistle while claiming “we were the experimental playground” on issues surrounding “privacy in intimate spaces.”
“This doesn’t fundamentally make sense,” Schultz claimed. “It doesn’t make sense that we can say that in a locker room, where people are changing, particularly for sports, that you should have people who have physiological characteristics of opposite sexes in the same space.”
“This is not bigotry, this is commonsense,” Schultz added. “I said ‘are we going to provide single stall changing areas because there were test cases in other states where they fought event that.’ No, that’s discrimination if you create a separate space because that’s treating them differently.”
While a conservative member of the audience exclaimed “what” at this point, the whole argument for separate but equal has been accepted as unconstitutional for generations. In a unanimous decision back in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs Board of Education that separate facilities are “inherently unequal” and are therefore unconstitutional. While this is an extremely famous case that started the desegregation of American schools, Schultz didn’t appear to under the basic concept that there is no such thing as “separate but equal.”
Of course, this didn’t stop Schultz from continuing on a tirade about transgender students in “intimate spaces.” And like she’s done on so many occasions, she claimed this was simply the rest of the school board trying to ram through some sort of “radical agenda.”
“There is no barrier right now that they do not want to knock down,” Schultz claimed. “Because it’s not even providing for the common decency of the privacy of the students that are involved.”
“All barriers must be knocked down and it will only be on their terms,” Schultz added trying to continue the claim that basic equality was some sort of radical agenda. “It will never on terms that respect decency for people” who share religious values.
SUMMARY AND AUDIO
While there was more in depth conversation about how horrible Ruse and Schultz thought transgender people are, the aforementioned highlights illustrate the gist of what they had to say. Essentially, they believe nobody’s actually transgender because “God doesn’t make mistakes” and anybody promoting the idea of basic equality for trans people is pushing some sort of “radical agenda” that will result in the violation of women’s privacy and religious freedom.
Especially when you consider that Elizabeth Schultz had already missed an entire presentation on technology and digital education tools earlier this month because she couldn’t be bothered to show up on time for a school board meeting, it’s truly a shame she decided to spend her Tuesday evening with a hate group spewing anti-trans bigotry instead of attending the school system’s presentation held in her district on how to “support students in a digital world.”
It does, however, give the public a prime example of what Elizabeth Schultz has decided to prioritize during her time on the Fairfax County School Board.
For those who are interested, here’s the full audio of Cathy Ruse’s remarks:
And here’s the full audio of Elizabeth Schultz’s remarks: