ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — On Aug. 17, gender and inclusivity policies were once again up for debate at the Roanoke County School Board meeting.

However, this time, the district made some changes as to who could participate in public discussion. They limited it to those who can directly address the board to parents, students, or district employees. The meeting comes just weeks after an information meeting on the topic, where two people were arrested after crowd outbursts.

Tensions were still high at the board meeting, and another arrest was made. One man was escorted out by County Police Officers for disorderly conduct, and a few residents exchanged in a tense debate at the end.

Before the 7 p.m. meeting even got underway, protesters against the policy changes had signs and flags in front of the building. One protestor shared one of their concerns.

“These policies are a solution in search of a problem. There were no problems in Roanoke County Schools before these came up,” said Danny Clawson.

The protest and board meeting came after news that Roanoke County, as well as other districts across the state of Virginia, discussed State Department of Education guideline changes. The new rules would stop school personnel from calling a child by anything other than their given name – and the pronouns consistent with their sex at birth.

At the board meeting, people on both sides took the podium.

“They were clearly designed to marginalize and isolate the most vulnerable students,” said one Roanoke County parent.

“I believe conversations like sexuality and identity should only be had in the confines of the home between parent and child,” said another.

Some even think change is so badly needed. They’re announcing a run for school board.
Samantha Newell said after being unheard, she is running as a write-in candidate.

“We want to make it clear that your policies are not popular. And Mr. Hudson, Catawba deserves an alternative to you,” said Samantha Newell during the board meeting.

But, not everyone agrees.

“If training a child to be anything other than who God made them to be is offered or allowed to be thought of, then I don’t see that being in the best interest of the future of our children,” said another Roanoke County member.

In the end, the board said they would be adopting the guidelines as directed by the State Board of Education. Though, they did reiterate support for everyone who attends Roanoke County Schools.

  • On Aug. 17, gender and inclusivity policies were once again up for debate at the Roanoke County School Board meeting.