A group of parents has filed a federal lawsuit in Virginia against the Loudoun County School Board over a school district anti-racism policy in which only students of color are tapped as “ambassadors” to help officials police student speech.
The parents, who sued on behalf of their children, said the school system’s plan is discriminatory and violates their children’s constitutional rights.
“Plaintiffs are concerned that if their students share their views about political or social issues, including those touching on religion, race, and human sexuality, they will be reported and investigated for ‘bias incidents,’” reads the 20-page lawsuit filed Wednesday.
“They fear such a report, investigation, or public disclosure could negatively impact their standing in the school community and ruin their children’s college or career prospects,” the complaint adds.
A spokesperson from the school district said it will not comment on pending litigation.
The Loudoun County Public Schools system proposed its “Action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism” last year. Under the proposal, the wearing or display of certain flags and images deemed “racist or hateful” is prohibited.
The program also aims to establish a protocol for responding to racial slurs and hate speech, as well as renaming the Loudoun High School mascot, according to the legal complaint.
Principals at each county school choose student ambassadors to engage with other students and officials on the issue of race. The lawsuit claims that only students of color are chosen as ambassadors.
The school program has a bias reporting system that allows students to police speech and report anything “extreme” to superiors.
“Our kids have the right to develop their own opinions, free from indoctrination and school-sanctioned bullying,” said Scott Mineo, a parent of a Loudoun County high school student.
The lawsuit raises concerns about off-campus speech being policed by the school district.
“Nothing about the bias reporting system limits the covered speech to on-campus activities. Speech on social media or via text message or even in-person or telephone conversations outside school but involving students could constitute a ‘bias incident,’” the complaint says.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga, a George W. Bush appointee.
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