Virginia parents sue school board over allegedly chilling students’ free speech – Washington Examiner

June 2, 2021

The following article by Mica Soellner appeared on June 2, 2021 on Washington Examiner.

A group of Virginia parents filed a federal lawsuit against the Loudoun County School Board, citing allegations that it violated students’ free speech rights.

The suit, represented by the Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center, targets the school board’s “bias reporting” system that encourages students to report on people’s perceived biases anonymously. Defendants also argued against having only students of color and those who “expressly attest” to being allies of historically oppressed groups be eligible to participate in the schools’ Equity Ambassadors Program.

“Our kids have the right to develop their own opinions, free from indoctrination and school-sanctioned bullying. Instead of opening young minds, Loudoun County school leaders are policing them. This is not education; it is coercion,” Scott Mineo, parent of a Loudoun County high school student and founder of Parents Against Critical Theory, said.

Daniel Suhr, a senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, called Loudoun County’s policies “extreme and divisive,” adding that he believed the suit was about free speech and the “fundamental equality under the law that all of us are guaranteed.”

Suhr said the district’s bias reporting system was broadly defined in part as a tool to fight microaggressions, a sociological term that could imply behavioral or verbal slights that could be deemed offensive against protected classes of people. Microaggressions can typically be intentional or unintentional.

“I think it’s incredibly broad,” Suhr told the Washington Examiner. “Microaggressions are defined even by these district officials as statements like ‘I believe in a colorblind society,’ or ‘I believe there’s no such thing as white privilege.'”

Suhr said they have not yet received a response from the school district, which has 60 days to respond to the suit.

He also added that he has seen an uptick in clients interested in pursuing litigation related to various classroom curricula, including mandated critical race theory courses.

Loudoun County Public Schools serves over 80,000 students ranging from kindergarten through high school in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

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