Apr 13, 2017
The Virginia Supreme Court issued its opinion today in Lafferty v. Fairfax, the challenge to the Fairfax County School Board’s unlawful action of adding “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” to its policy and student handbook.
The Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision dismissing the case and held that none of the plaintiffs had sufficient legal standing to challenge the unlawful policy. The Court stated that: (1) Jack Doe’s alleged injury was too speculative because he had not been punished under the policy; (2) that John and Jane Doe do not have next friend standing for the same reasons Jack Doe has no standing; and (3) none of the plaintiffs qualify for taxpayer standing.
Liberty Counsel represents Jake Doe, a minor, John and Jane, the parents and Andrea Lafferty. This is one of several cases around the country. After consulting with clients, the case may be refiled based on new developments that occurred since the original suit. Virginia follows the “Dillon Rule,” which requires local nondiscrimination laws to not be more stringent than the state law. State law does not include “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” or “gender expression.” Neither the circuit court nor the Supreme Court reached a decision concerning the merits of this policy, and neither issued any opinion on the ability of the local school board to enact such policies that are plainly inconsistent with state law.