Virginia School Sued for Illegally Changing Nondiscrimination Policy

Dec 21, 2015

Fairfax, VA – Today Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit against the School Board of Fairfax County, Virginia, for illegally changing its nondiscrimination policy so that it conflicts with the state’s policy. Virginia law explicitly prohibits local governing bodies from adding to, or removing protected classes from, the state’s nondiscrimination policy. In direct defiance, Fairfax has added new groups to its policy twice now. The board added "sexual orientation" on November 6, 2014, and again added "gender identity" on May 7, 2015, of which the school failed to even define its intended meaning.

After attempts failed to convince the school board to follow Virginia law, Liberty Counsel is asking for a declaratory judgment from the Circuit Court of Fairfax County. Liberty Counsel has also requested a preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of this improper policy. The school board’s actions are unequivocally prohibited by Virginia Code §§1-248, 15.2-965 and under Dillon’s Rule, which prevents local governing bodies, including school boards, from including groups beyond what has been defined as a protected class by the General Assembly. The school board’s law should be automatically found void and reversed.

This lawsuit names the school board in its official capacity and is brought on behalf of Andrea Lafferty, President of Traditional Values Coalition, who is a resident and taxpayer of Fairfax, and also an anonymous family who are taxpayers in Fairfax County and have a minor who is a student in the Fairfax school district. These clients requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation from pro-homosexual activists, which is commonly experienced in these cases.

"It was the reckless, unlawful conduct of the school board that brought unnecessary legal costs upon the district. A school board should be focusing on providing for its students and teachers – not incurring expenses for illegal activities." said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "The strength of America’s foundation is that no school may disregard our laws. Just as a board should be punished for removing 'race' or 'religion' from its nondiscrimination clause, it is equally liable for punishment for adding groups that are not recognized by Virginia law."

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.