Menders v. Loudoun County School Board

Parents have filed a lawsuit against the Loudoun County School Board for denying their students equal treatment and violating their right to free speech.

A group of Loudoun County, Virginia parents filed a federal lawsuit against school leaders for denying their students equal treatment and violating their right to free speech. The parents say the children will be discriminated against for simply expressing their opinion, or worse, for the color of their skin.

In June 2020, Loudoun County Public Schools announced a new “Action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism.” As part of this action plan, the county instituted a “Student Equity Ambassador” program and bias reporting procedures. Equity ambassadors are given unparalleled access to district officials. Program participation requires students to adhere to a radical political ideology and tells students to police their peers by reporting them for “biased” speech.

Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center are representing the families. They’ve filed a complaint against the Loudoun County School Board and have asked the Court to take action to end illegal discrimination and violations of free speech.

“Not only are Loudoun school leaders telling students what they can and can’t say, they are imposing controversial political views on students and punishing those who don’t agree,” said a Liberty Justice Center attorney.Loudoun County’s policies are extreme and divisive. Every student has a right to express his or her views and to engage in a respectful, robust conversation about real issues without fear of retribution.”

Several of the families are asking the Court to plead anonymously after parents Patti Menders, the lead plaintiff in the case, and Scott Mineo received threats on social media. Many also want to protect their children from mistreatment by teachers and fellow students. Teachers and school board members have called parents racist and hateful for speaking up for their children’s education and right to free speech.


Emily Rae

Emily Rae is a Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, where she litigates cases to protect individual liberties, prevent government overreach, and preserve other constitutional rights.

Case Press Releases

Case In The News

Loudoun Now
April 17, 2023

(Loudoun Now)—The United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled April 14 that several Loudoun County parents can pursue a First Amendment lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools’ bias reporting system. The decision reverses the dismissal of a lawsuit by District Court Judge Anthony John Trenga wherein the parents sued...

The Center Square
April 17, 2023

(Center Square)—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit made by Loudoun County, Virginia, parents against their public school system over a bias reporting system, which they argue could chill their children’s freedom of speech. The appeals court overturned a lower court decision...

Courthouse News Service
April 14, 2023

(Courthouse News Service)—The Fourth Circuit ruled Friday that a northern Virginia school system’s bias reporting forms could have a chilling effect on students’ free speech. The opinion, penned by U.S. Circuit Judge Marvin Quattlebaum, orders the district court to reconsider a group of parents’ First Amendment claims on the merits....

Courthouse News
December 9, 2022

(Courthouse News)—Students often join school clubs or organizations hoping to bolster their resumes for college admissions offices. But three Virginia parents claim their children face exclusion from a school system’s student equity ambassador program based on their beliefs and race. On Thursday, a Fourth Circuit panel of three Republican-appointed judges...

July 2, 2021

The following article by LJC attorney Daniel Suhr appeared on Real Clear Education on July 2, 2021 Free speech rights for students have always been a difficult issue because schools have unique needs and concerns. But whether it was black armbands to protest the Vietnam War or a picture of...

June 9, 2021
Represented by the nonprofit Liberty Justice Center, the parents and students sued the school board in federal court. They claim that Loudoun County Public Schools’ policies and programs to address “systemic racism” discriminate on the basis of race and viewpoint....
June 4, 2021
Fox & Friends interviewed three Loudoun county parents, including Menders v. Loudoun County School Board plaintiff Patti Hidalgo Menders, about the backlash they've faced for speaking out against the way Critical Race Theory is being taught in schools....
June 3, 2021
Equity programs implemented by the Loudoun County public school system in Virginia have been controversial in the community, and they led to a lawsuit this week as a group of parents argue the programs are unconstitutional....
June 3, 2021
Parents filed a lawsuit against Virginia’s Loudoun County school board, alleging that the board discriminates against students on the basis of their political beliefs and race....
June 2, 2021
The controversy over "equity" is accelerating in Loudoun County where parents are suing administrators over initiatives that allegedly chill free speech and discriminate based on race....

Case Documents

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Menders v. Loudoun County School Board


June 2, 2021


U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia




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