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Fairfax Co. School Board aims to stop students from maliciously misgendering, deadnaming classmates

The district passed an update to its Student Rights and Responsibilities that prohibits "malicious" misuse of the terms.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — In its annual review of the Student Rights and Responsibilities policies Fairfax County Public Schools updated its stance on the use of a person's preferred pronouns and what's known as deadnaming – using a transgender person's previous name that they no longer use. 

Before Thursday night's school board meeting two groups showed up to both denounce and support these policies.

The approved changes to its policy which removed the phrase "intentionally or not" from the definition of deadnaming and removed the phrase "deliberately or accidentally" from the definition of misgendering.  

Some parents opposed to the policy entirely said the board first introduced it during the pandemic when parents couldn't easily protest the change. Some told WUSA9 they may boycott the required parent signatures on the Student Rights and Responsibilities update. 

"We're not against the LGBTQ+ community," said Stephanie Lundquist-Arora a mother of Fairfax County students. "We're against compelled speech. We think that changes to the SR&R, the Student Rights and Responsibilities document, is actually a violation of children's and families First Amendment rights. It has nothing to do with my feelings towards the LGBTQ+ community," she said.

Others said it was an issue of providing a safe place for students to learn. 

"The deadnaming, the misgendering -- those things can be used in a way that's similar to bullying," said Chris McCormick, who is also mother of students in the district. "Similar to as you would, you know, any type of racial slurs or things like that. And that's really what we're trying to address."

Before the board approved the update, one board member said "malicious" speech is what the policy aims to prevent. 

RELATED: LIST: A Pride Month glossary of LGBTQ+ terminology, language

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