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Gang Rape? Porn on Library Shelves? What's Happening in Fairfax County, Virginia, Schools?

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Virginia public schools continue to be a focal point of controversy as parents and school board members butt heads over a slew of issues, from transgender policies and sexual assault to pornographic books in libraries.

Last month, Fairfax County came into the spotlight when parent Stacy Langton confronted the school board over sexually graphic books found at a school library.

WARNING: The following video contains graphic content that some viewers will find offensive.


The books’ pornographic images and descriptions of sexual acts between minors sparked a parental outcry. The school board pulled the books from shelves and is now reviewing them.

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Fairfax County School Board chair Stella Pekarsky spoke to The Western Journal about the review of the books.

Two committees will be involved in the process, each consisting of two teachers, two parents, one school administrator, one member of an “Equity and Cultural Responsiveness team,” and two high school students.

The school district wants libraries to provide resources that “affirm students in their identity, culture, and background,” Pekarsky wrote in an email.

She added that one of the purposes of library materials is to “meet the information needs of students taking into consideration diverse interests, abilities, backgrounds, reading levels, maturity levels, native languages, and students’ extracurricular interests.”

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However, many parents are objecting to the books in question because they simply don’t want their children exposed to such content in school.

“I expect [schools] to tread a lot more cautiously when it comes to sex because they are responsible for my kids during that time,” Bethany Wagner, a former Fairfax County Public Schools parent, told The Western Journal.

“Not all families are this flippant and open about sex at such a young age. They’re just not. And I don’t want my kids to be around that. Sure, I may be a prude, but I don’t care. I don’t care if they think I’m a prude.”

On top of the book controversy, Fairfax County schools are also dealing with reports of sexual assaults.

According to the Daily Wire, one girl said she was slashed with a knife, burned with a lighter and gang-raped on a middle school campus when she was 12 years old. Another came forward with allegations that she was assaulted on a school trip, but that a school security officer told her it wasn’t worth pursuing criminal charges.

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Naturally, parents and communities have erupted. Asra Q. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Fairfax parent, even wrote an article entitled “Yes, Virginia, we have a rape culture crisis in K-12 schools.”

Why are these issues plaguing Virginia schools?

Wagner suggested that they are a symptom of a deeper problem.

In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation requiring the state Department of Education to develop policies regarding the treatment of transgender students.

The department’s model policies encourage schools to “minimize social stigmatization for [transgender] students and maximize opportunities for social integration so that all students have an equal opportunity to attend school, be engaged, and achieve academic success.”

The policies and definitions, however, are quite broad and leave implementation and more specific regulation to local school boards and administrators. The state imposed guidelines but provided little clarity, according to Wagner.

“The school board meeting where they actually adopted protections for trans students, it was very contentious. But at the same time, the school board did nothing to communicate implementation to kind of calm those fears,” Wagner said.

“They did nothing, nothing. The discussion was basically saying, you know, ‘We’re going to fight for trans rights and we’re not going to let these awful people … harm our trans students.'”

Wagner pointed out that the definition of “gender expression” in the school policies made the implementation of rules especially hard.

The policies define gender expression as “the manner in which a person represents or expresses their gender identity or role to others, often through appearance, clothing, hairstyles, behavior, activities, voice, or mannerisms. Gender expression may change over time and from day-to-day and is not necessarily related to the person’s gender identity.”

If “gender expression” can change from day to day, how are teachers supposed to treat their students?

“This document addresses how teachers and staff should address transgender and non-binary students, and they’re telling them that gender can change from day to day. So this puts teachers and parents in a weird place,” Wagner said.

The policies also allow for students to use whatever restrooms they choose.

“I support a transgender student who has come out and basically established themselves as transgender using whatever bathroom they choose, but this is getting a little bit wishy-washy for me,” Wagner said.

“These are K-12 schools. There’s going to be a lot of immature behavior, you know, pushing boundaries, hormones raging. This does not seem to be easily implemented by the staff and, considering where we’re at in our community and the ongoing discussions about [cancel culture] and, you know, wokeism, I’m concerned that maybe teachers … won’t step in and correct immature or outright bad behavior because of this. They’re put in a very awkward place.”

Wagner said she has heard directly from teachers that they are uncomfortable with how these policies are being handled and implemented. Teachers have told her that the policies don’t make sense and that they are not getting clear direction from administrators.

The transgender policies are reaching beyond education and into politics, as Wagner has experienced firsthand.

“We have 12 school board members, 12 of them. And during the public meetings for this, none of them clearly communicated or referenced any of these hot-button sections that parents are bringing up. And instead, they’re focusing on the very far-right emotional response,” Wagner said.

Wagner herself has always voted Democrat — until this year.

“I guess I’m getting kind of sick of the one-party rule in Fairfax County and northern Virginia. You know, the entire school board is Democrats — all of them, which is fine. However, there’s a groupthink going on and they all basically align themselves with the Democrat kind of speaking points,” she said.

According to Wagner, this lack of communication from the school board had been going on even before the transgender policies were handed down from the state. It really began with the coronavirus pandemic and was enough for Wagner to pull her two children out of public school.

“They are extremely risk-averse during the COVID response. … And when parents raise questions, we’re belittled. They try to silence us with the ‘oh, you’re a Trumper’ bulls***,” Wagner said.

With so much controversy surrounding Virginia public schools, Wagner is circulating petitions to recall school board members. This is not the first recall effort that Fairfax has seen.

In July, the Fairfax County Times reported that a petition to recall school board member Elaine Tholen had collected over 5,000 signatures. Though a judge dismissed the recall effort, it showed that Fairfax parents were starting to question the school board and becoming concerned about how politics were swaying its decisions.

“They cannot lead, they cannot formulate a plan, they cannot separate themselves from their personal ideological politics,” said Zia Tompkins, a parent and member of the FCPS Accountability Coalition.

School boards across Virginia have become a battleground. Many people are simply asking school board members to put their politics aside and listen to parents’ concerns.

“Many have accused our group of being political, and this is false. Our group does not care about a political affiliation,” said Saundra Davis, an FCPS parent who also said she is a Democrat.

“We have watched the school board consistently place party politics, geopolitical issues and other social justice projects ahead of their main duties.”

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Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.
Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.




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