A father was arrested last summer for protesting a policy that led to his ninth-grade daughter’s rape in a school bathroom. At the time, the school board claimed it never happened and an activist told him his daughter was not to be believed. Now, we learn other sexual assaults have been covered up. This is a microcosm of equity in action…
Once upon a time, Americans embraced the ideal of equal justice under the law. Whether rich or poor, black or white, people should be judged based on the “content of their character” in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s immortal phrasing. To be sure, America itself, or any other country in the world for that matter, has never fully lived up to that ideal, but it remained something to strive for, the driving force behind landmark achievements like the equal protection amendment and the Civil Rights Act. Over the past several years, however, a competing ideal has surfaced from the opaque realms of academia, one which has been rapidly spreading throughout the Democrat party: Equity. The words sound similar, but their meaning could not be more different. Equality seeks objectivity in the application of justice and fair treatment regardless of race, color, or creed, what some refer to as equal opportunity. Equity, on the other hand, seeks to normalize outcomes based on race, creed, and color, replacing objectivity and fair treatment with preferential treatment in the pursuit of what they consider a fairer distribution of society’s resources and power.
I understand that many believe this to be a noble goal. There remain huge disparities in our society, from the unequal distribution of wealth to outcomes in education and law-enforcement. It’s my belief that we should address these challenges wherever possible, as we have in the past in the ongoing quest to fully realize the ideals of America’s founding, but that the equity approach only introduces a potentially more dangerous and corrosive set of challenges all its own. In short, once you start dividing people into groups based on their perceived historical or other disadvantages, where do you stop? What line will you not cross in pursuit of equity? Equality is self-correcting: The goal is to treat people equally in all things, any deviation from that is considered wrong. Equity, on the other hand, has no such mechanism, and we’re witnessing a microcosm of the potential consequences in Loudoun County, Virginia.
At first glance, the upscale Loudon County seems a strange location to observe the harsh realities of the equity agenda and the raging battle lines in our current cultural war. Founded in 1757, the county occupies 522 square miles in the northeast corner of the state. The total population numbers only 420,959, but it’s considered the wealthiest county in the entire United States with a median household income of over $142,000. This wealth started to accumulate in the 1960’s after the construction of Washington-Dulles Airport and, today, the county enjoys a wide variety of high paying jobs in technology and other fields. It’s the home of Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies, along with scores of data centers for Amazon and other providers. According to the 2010 census, the population was a mix of white (68.7%), Asian (14.7%), Hispanic, (12.4%), black (7.3%), and a smattering of other races. The demographics have been rapidly changing in recent years with the school districts reporting 42.7% white students, 25.4% Asian, 18.3% Hispanic, 7.1% black, and 5.7% mixed race for the 2020-2021 school year.
Generally speaking, Loudoun is your average upper middle class enclave, but it does have one distinguishing feature: Almost total Democrat control of the local government. The Board of Supervisors is 6-3 in favor of Democrats, as is the school board. The delegates to the Virginia Assembly are 6-1, to the Senate, 3-1. Only the Constitutional Officers including the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Commissioner of Revenue, Sheriff, and Treasurer tilt Republican 4-1, the Commonwealth’s Attorney being the lone Democrat in that group. For our purposes here, the Democrat-dominated school board has pursued an equity focused agenda for the past several years. Whether you choose to call it Critical Race Theory, intersectionality, or some other technical term is irrelevant. The general approach and focus is clear, from the statements of the superintendent through early 2021, Eric Williams, to publicly available internal memos and invoices. Mr. Williams, for example, described it this way, “While LCPLS has not adopted CRT, some of the principles related to race as a social construct and the sharing of stories of racism, racialized oppression, etc. that we are encouraging through the Action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism, in some of our professional learning modules, and our use of instructional resources on the Social Justice Standards, do align with the ideology of CRT.”
This is part of a broader push in Virginia in general. A memo to the division superintendents dated February 22, 2019 from James F. Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Commonwealth of Virginia said, “From our vantage point as educators, we must all join together to renew our commitment to equity and the elimination of racism of any kind from our public school experience. Our commitment to advancing equity outcomes and fostering inclusive and welcoming environments for Virginia is resolute.” The memo cites Foundations in Critical Race Theory by Edward Taylor, David Gillborn, and Gloria Ladson Billings as a resource for educators. The book purports to “explicate ideological contestation of race in education and to create new, alternative accounts. In so doing, this landmark publication not only documents the progress to date of the CRT movement, it acts for further spur developments in education.”
Loudoun County itself has engaged outside consultants at $625 per hour to make this a reality. Panorama Education, a business that has raised close to $80 million and was founded by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s son-in-law, Xan Tanner, has provided services to develop Critical Race Theory in county schools, including multiple Equity Leadership Coaching services, Instructional Leadership Development for the Culturally Responsive Teaching Framework and Equity Committee Planning and Agenda Design. In addition, they have provided “bias” training for teachers, apologized for segregation, and banned any Confederate symbols in school. Transgender rights are a big part of this agenda as well, with a new bathroom policy allowing biological males access to female facilities. In response, concerned parents have mounted an organized backlash against the school board, turning normally boring, routine meetings into protests. This past summer, hundreds of parents flooded into an auditorium on June 22 to accuse the school board of teaching Critical Race Theory and being “anti-white.” “It’s anti-white,” explained Scott Mineo, a parent who started an advocacy group, Parents Against Critical Theory. “It takes a negative position against the United States.” Mr. Mineo was supported by signs reading, “Education not indoctrination” and “You don’t end racism by teaching it.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Wayde Byard, the Loudoun County Public Schools spokesman for twenty years. He was prompted by deputies removing two attendees in handcuffs, one of which we will meet in a few moments. The protesting parents are demanding the recall of school board members, and, perhaps needless to say, other groups are organizing to oppose them. Fight For Schools, organized by a Loudoun Parent and former Trump Administration Official, Ian Prior, is spearheading the recall effort, gathering 10,000 signatures to secure the removal of one board member, and 2,700 for another. Fight for Schools is opposed by Loudoun For All, a group founded by five parents that has raised thousands of dollars to support the equity agenda. “We intend to use this money to spread the truth and counter the lies about transgender young people, critical race theory, and LCPS equity efforts,” the group’s president, Rasha Saad, wrote in a statement. “There is no reason equity in our schools should be this controversial.”
Last week, one of the parents who was arrested at the June 22 meeting, Scott Smith, came forward with a shocking allegation: The school board covered up the rape of his daughter in a bathroom by a boy wearing a skirt. We know this thanks to The Daily Wire’s Luke Rosiak, just about the only media outlet actually interested in the story, more on that in a moment. Mr. Smith claims the rape occurred on May 28 at Stone Bridge High School, where his daughter was a freshman at the time. Juvenile records are sealed, but Elizabeth Lancaster, Mr. Smith’s attorney, said a boy was charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of anal sodomy, and one count of forcible fellatio. Mr. Smith had attended the school board meeting in June to make the story public and protest the policy, but before he got the chance he was lectured by the current superintendent Scott Ziegler, who claimed that any concerns of the trans-bathroom policy itself were overblown because no assaults had occurred in schools since it’s implementation. Obviously, Mr. Smith strongly disagreed with that assessment, based on what happened to his own daughter. He was then approached by a leftwing activist in a rainbow pride shirt who told him that she did not believe his daughter, believe all women being secondary to achieving equity for transgender.
Mr. Smith became enraged and engaged in a heated discussion with the activist when a police officer grabbed his arm. Mr. Smith pulled it away, and, according to The Daily Wire, Smith was “hit in the face, handcuffed, and dragged across the floor, with his pants pulled down.” Mr. Smith’s lawyer insists that “If someone would have sat and listened for thirty seconds to what Scott had to say, they would have been mortified and heartbroken.” Instead, no one did, and that’s not all they tried to cover up. The Daily Wire also found at least two other incidents of sexual assault that were spiked by the school board and not reported properly. “Loudoun County Public Schools did not record multiple known incidents of alleged sexual assault in schools dating back several years, despite a law that requires statistics about school safety incidents to be reported to the public and which includes provisions holding school superintendents personally liable for violations, a Daily Wire review of public records found.”
So far, there appear to be at least two additional incidents, one involving the same boy that raped Mr. Smith’s daughter and another when a boy was held down in a locker room while other boys “inserted objects in the victim.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post appears to be the only mainstream media outlet covering the story, albeit with a disturbing lack of candor. Last week they corroborated most of The Daily Wire’s original reporting, writing, “A teen accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student at a Loudoun County high school in May is also accused in a second sexual assault less than five months later at another county high school, according to the Loudoun County commonwealth’s attorney.” For inexplicable reasons, however, the Post’s story doesn’t mention the cover up aspect, noting only that “The dual allegations sparked anger from parents who showed up at a school board meeting Tuesday night and blasted school officials for their handling of the incidents and the student’s enrollment in a new school after the first allegation.” The fallout of these revelations continues with at least one board member resigning, Beth Barts, who was also a target for recall by Fight For Schools. Pressure is on Superintendent Ziegler to do the same.
Ultimately, however, there are much broader philosophical and societal implications to this disturbing series of events. The cover up occurred specifically to advance the transgender bathroom policy as part of the school system’s equity agenda, and there is no logical means to separate the two. If your goal is to advance the rights of some disadvantaged groups over others for whatever reason, you will necessarily be confronted with situations where one needs to undermine the rights of an individual, denying them equality before the law. In this case, the purported rights of transgender students, biological males, superseded the rights of biological females, and that agenda required the school to dismiss evidence that would undermine the policy. What else can you do once committed to the equity outcome? If they were to have informed parents that young women were assaulted in the privacy of the bathroom as the result of their new policy, they would have been forced to change it. The rights of transgender people were too paramount for that, however, and so they denied the basic rights of the biologically female community.
Unfortunately, this thinking is an inherent part of the equity agenda. You cannot implicitly prioritize one group over another and maintain equality in application of the law. You will be confronted with situations where you need to choose whose rights are more or less important. We see this in the activist that confronted Mr. Smith back in June. The “believe all women” principle only applies when the accused is male. If the accused is transgender, they are more protected than the average woman, and hence the average woman is not to be believed in that case. We also see this in the push to defund the police and reimagine policing in general: Because black men are targeted more by police for whatever reason, residents of primarily black communities are no longer entitled to the same level of police presence and protection. The resulting crime, as evidenced by massive spikes in major cities that have cut police funding or pursued less aggressive enforcement policies, robs individuals of their rights, but those rights don’t matter compared to the overarching goal of an equitable number of arrests across different groups.
This is why, hidden in the weeds of Critical Race Theory and intersectionality, we always find a desire to completely upend and replace our current system of government. The principle of equality under the law is too deeply embedded in the Constitution to permit the radical reimagining required to achieve equity. This, of course, will not stop them from trying and if Loudoun County Virginia is any indication we can sadly expect more of these incidents, not less.