VA Supreme Court Takes Up Fairfax County LGBT Case

Sep 12, 2016

RICHMOND, VA – Today the Virginia Supreme Court agreed to take up Liberty Counsel’s challenge to the Fairfax County School Board case regarding its illegal policy in which the board added “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” to its policy and student handbook. Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman, Mat Staver, appeared before a three-judge panel of the Virginia Supreme Court arguing for the Court to take up the case.

Liberty Counsel represents Jake Doe, a minor, John and Jane, the parents, and Andrea Lafferty. This is one of several cases around the country, including a case in Virginia that has been blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court and cases in North Carolina and Texas where federal courts blocked the Obama administration’s LGBT directive to public schools.

Virginia follows the “Dillon’s 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.” The circuit court dismissed the lawsuit, stating any challenge must be filed within 30 days of a school board’s action. But the Dillion’s Rule is not subject to the 30-day provision. During the oral argument, the Virginia Supreme Court zeroed in on that issue and similarly appeared to agree that a Dillon’s Rule challenge cannot be limited to a 30-day window. If it were limited, the school board could pass illegal policies that conflict with state law during the summer break when there are no students on campus to challenge the law. The illegal act would be grandfathered in which doesn’t make any sense.

“This is very good news that the Virginia Supreme Court decided to grant the appeal and will now review the case,” said Mat Staver. “The Fairfax Country School Board’s lawless act of adding ‘gender identity, expression and sexual orientation’ to the local policy violates state law and harms children. This is a matter of statewide and national concern. The lower court’s dismissal was wrong and we look forward to the upcoming hearing before the Virginia Supreme Court. The fact that the Virginia Supreme Court decided to take up this case should be a warning to other local Virginia school boards and government bodies to back away from following the path of Fairfax County,” Staver said.

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.