School Board Reinforces Commitment to Diversity and Equity
Posted on 06/23/2017
Picture of elementary students sitting at desks with hands raised

The Prince William County School Board voted last night to expand the Division’s anti-discrimination policy to expressly safeguard students and staff members from harassment or discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Board’s 5-3 vote followed a year of debate. Supporters of the change said that the modified policy would ensure urgently needed safety and equity protections. Opponents claimed those protections were already present in the existing anti-discrimination language.

Newly approved Policy 060 now states, in part: "The Division shall not discriminate in employment nor in the provision of educational programs, services, and activities based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, veteran status, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law."

The School Board’s motion to approve the change to Policy 060 included guidance to the Superintendent regarding implementation of the policy, specifically, to “not change the current regulations and practices regarding bathroom and locker room use” and to “uphold the fundamental right to privacy.”

Despite all the controversy, I am confident that this change will simply reinforce the Division’s long-standing commitment to provide a safe, welcoming, and productive environment for every student and staff member,” said Superintendent Steve Walts.

“This policy modification builds on the successful, individualized, and common sense practices our staff have used to sensitively manage gender-related issues for years.” Walts adds, “We do not expect any dramatic changes in those practices as we move forward with the Board’s commitment to respect the rights and privacy of all students and staff. We are committed to celebrating diversity, self-expression, and religious freedom in our schools – they are fundamental to the strength of our School Division.”