Virginia Court’s Dismissal of Suit against Fairfax Will be Appealed

Feb 19, 2016

FAIRFAX, VA -- Today the Fairfax County Circuit Court wrongfully dismissed Liberty Counsel’s lawsuit on standing. Liberty Counsel sued the School Board of Fairfax County, Virginia, for illegally changing its nondiscrimination policy and adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” conflicting with Virginia Civil Rights Laws. Liberty Counsel will appeal this decision soon.  

The court ruled that Jack Doe, the anonymous Fairfax County student named in the case, did not face an injury, such as being expelled or suspended, so he lacked standing to file the lawsuit.  “Under today’s ruling, students in Fairfax County Public Schools are told, ‘We do not care if your fundamental right to education and right to privacy have been violated’” said Liberty Counsel Litigation Counsel Daniel Schmid. “Minors in Fairfax County, Virginia, will now be subjected to invasions of their privacy, inside the very school district tasked with protecting them. Once again, the fundamental rights of minors were trampled by a lack of common sense and an appropriate understanding of biology,” Schmid continued.  

Virginia law explicitly prohibits local governing bodies from altering the state’s nondiscrimination policy. “Today, the Fairfax County Circuit Court ignored Virginia’s long-standing Dillon’s rule and permitted school districts to become enclaves of totalitarianism,” Schmid continued.  The Dillon Rule narrowly defines the power of local governments in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It states that if there is any reasonable doubt whether a power has been conferred on a local government—in this case, changing the nondiscrimination policy—then the power has not been conferred. 

“Civil rights are coded in Virginia law. In changing the nondiscrimination laws, the school board acted recklessly and unlawfully,” 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 may not remove ‘race’ or ‘religion’ from its nondiscrimination clause, it cannot add groups that are not recognized by the Virginia Legislature.”  

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.