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Parents have a right to know within 24 hours of fentanyl overdoses in Virginia’s schools

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. This piece originally appeared on Washington Examiner.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing there were 2,339 reported overdose deaths in Virginia from December 2022 to December 2023. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of unnatural death in the state. As fentanyl flows over our porous southern border, the drug is stealing the lives of not only adults, but an increasing number of children across the country.

While the CDC’s data on youth overdose deaths are incomplete from 2023, in 2022, 45 children in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., died of fentanyl overdoses. The number of children ages 12 to 17 who have perished from fentanyl has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic. And for every fentanyl death, there are many more fentanyl overdoses that result in the hospitalization of America’s children.

Most of us are acutely aware that we are in a war against fentanyl that knows no boundaries and is coming for our children. But someone needs to tell Virginia’s House Democrats. 

In November 2023, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) issued executive order No. 28 requiring Virginia’s public schools to issue notifications to parents of school-related overdoses within 24 hours. Until Youngkin’s order, the data were not publicly available in many districts, including Fairfax County. In some cases, students were overdosing in public school bathrooms and parents with children at that school had no idea.

Such a notification system should garner bipartisan support. When parents are quickly notified of fentanyl in their schools, they are more aware of its presence and can act accordingly. Given that this is killing our children, it seems logical that we would collaboratively — regardless of political affiliation — want all hands on deck to combat such a dangerous enemy.

Earlier this year, state legislators introduced bills to codify Youngkin’s executive order into state law — likely because liberal school districts, such as Fairfax County, have a history of completely ignoring the governor’s executive orders and model policies.

Last month, Virginia’s state senators voted unanimously in favor of the bill. But like petulant little children, House Democrats, led by Delegate Holly Seibold, voted against the 24-hour notification window.

Why? It’s unclear. Seibold’s explanation is vague and makes her sound like a cantankerous teenager rebelling against her father. She said, “How we approach these overdoses must be well thought out policy and more than just a governor’s mandate.”

Seibold did not elaborate on why she thought the 24-hour notification was not “well thought out.” And she refused to speak about it with the media. 

If House Democrats do not want to help us legislatively protect our children against fentanyl in public schools, they should at least explain their reasoning. And it should be more profound than clear oppositional defiance that sounds like, “If dad wants it, then I’m against it.”

The Democrats’ objection to notifying parents of fentanyl overdoses within 24 hours is particularly ironic given that in Seibold’s district, Fairfax County’s parents were sent near daily notifications about COVID-19 cases in the schools. Does this mean that House Democrats believe that COVID is more dangerous than fentanyl for children? I certainly hope not, but I would not put it past them.

Likely, this is just another example of Democrats supporting the politically expedient filtering of information to parents from their children’s public schools, to children’s peril.

Race-based policies are not only immoral, they are dangerous

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. This piece originally appeared in Washington Examiner.

There are times when we collectively understand that discrimination in hiring and admissions is wrong. Last week, for example, a Virginia-based technology firm was forced to pay more than $38,000 in penalties for a 2023 job advertisement in search of white applicants.

In a U.S. Department of Justice press release, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division stated, “The Justice Department, working with other government agencies, will continue to hold employers accountable when they violate our nation’s federal civil rights laws.”

Michele Hodge, acting director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, joined Clarke in her justified outrage. She said, “We are committed to holding federal contractors accountable for outrageous discriminatory practices like this advertisement.”

Indeed, discrimination on the basis of race is outrageously wrong. Isn’t that what they are saying? 

Sadly, no. Rather, the Left enjoys levying discriminatory policy against whites and Asians, even if they are children. According to their hero, Ibram X. Kendi, these types of so-called anti-racist policies essentially are payback for history, and the only way to make up for unjust past discrimination is with unjust present discrimination.

So while we breathe a gasp of moral indignation together about the “whites only” job advertisement at the technology company, our unity, ironically, ends there.

Take medical schools as another example. Many leftist medical schools, such as the University of California, Los Angeles, have reportedly engaged in race-based admissions despite a state law prohibiting such policies. 

In order to achieve racial balance, the schools’ metrics have changed from grades and test scores to, well, mostly just race. They may as well hang a sign that says, “Asians need not apply because we don’t need any more of you.” 

Does the Left have a problem with this? No, it seems they don’t. But they should.

First, discrimination against any race is morally reprehensible and unconstitutional. 

That aside, admissions programs and applications based on so-called equity rather than merit are quite literally dangerous for our health and safety. Following UCLA’s focus on race in admissions, their rank and students’ performance dropped precipitously.

The unintended consequences of such policies for specialized fields, such as medicine, are disastrous. Obviously, no one wants an incompetent doctor, even wealthy leftists. 

As the public becomes aware of such considerations in medical schools, they will use information shortcuts to select doctors who have not been given “special consideration” in medical school, which without doubt would include heterosexual Asian males. Their competence will be as guaranteed as it gets because it’s crystal clear that no one is offering them any special favors.

Meanwhile, very qualified individuals belonging to racial groups that have been given a “helping hand” for the sake of “equity” will be viewed with a lens of skepticism and perhaps even avoided. Eventually, reviews and research will show who the most competent doctors are, and which ones have no business practicing medicine.

And guess who gets stuck with the incompetent doctors from the “do-good” medical schools? Poor people. Is that the equality we are targeting in America? I hope not.

So, while we rightly admonish firms with racist hiring policies that are in search of only white applicants, it is also time that we join together in the realization that merit, not equity, wins the day. And all selection decisions based on racial identity are not only immoral, but counterproductive.

Biden’s Title IX Regime Absolutely Affects Sports

This op-ed was written by May Mailman, director of Independent Women’s Law Center. This piece originally appeared in Washington Examiner.

After considerable delay, President Joe Biden’s administration published its massive regulation abusing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. While it generally redefines the law’s prohibition on “sex” discrimination to require treating students in accordance with their “gender identity,” the regulation at first glance appears to leave athletics alone. The regulation says that while males must generally be permitted into women’s spaces, the long-standing athletics regulation (allowing sex-separate teams) will remain in place.  

But the Independent Women’s Forum is suing the Biden administration to protect female athletes from its Title IX regulation. Because let’s be clear: The new regime unquestionably destroys women’s sports. And that destruction violates Title IX.

To start with some basics, Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program that accepts federal funds, from daycare to doctoral programs. In prohibiting sex discrimination, Title IX explicitly recognizes that men and women are different. Because of those differences, giving women equal educational opportunities sometimes requires women’s-only facilities and organizations. For example, Title IX specifically permits schools to offer single-sex living facilities. And to ensure that women have a meaningful opportunity to compete in athletics, Title IX permits, if not requires, single-sex athletic teams. 

Title IX has been wildly successful. When it was passed, only 300,000 women played high school sports. Now, that number is more than 3.4 million. Sports are an important part of the academic environment, especially for girls. Girls who play sports have higher grades, higher self-esteem, and lower levels of depression — an outcome desperately needed among today’s girls.

Instead of helping women, the Biden administration’s reinvention of “sex discrimination” mandates that men be treated as women (or whatever else) based on claimed gender identity. The administration admits that toilets, locker rooms, and sex-education classes (long permitted to be sex-based for obvious reasons) must now incorporate those who claim exclusion would “harm” them on the basis of their subjective identity. 

Sports are a part of all this. For one, the Biden administration has made clear that Title IX applies to all aspects of the educational experience — including athletics. It has argued in court that Title IX, the law, requires female athletes to accommodate men. In other words, the administration’s position is you can have your women’s sports so long as women’s teams are open to men. Doesn’t really sound like women’s sports to me. 

And even if Biden’s Title IX interpretation permitted single-sex athletic competition, the new Title IX rule would continue to upend women’s sports. And that’s by dismantling the privacy of women’s locker rooms. As Independent Women’s Forum Ambassador Paula Scanlan, a former teammate of Penn swimmer Lia Thomas, has testified, she was forced to undress before Thomas, a 6’4” fully intact biological male, 18 times per week. After voicing her concern to university officials, Paula was told that changing with Thomas was mandatory and reeducation counseling would be available for her to get comfortable with it. This abusive story will now play out in locker rooms across the country. 

The far-reaching, illegal, and immoral Title IX regulation sets women back. It devastates women’s spaces, degrades womanhood to a stereotypical state of mind, and elevates male emotions over the real barriers women historically and presently face in educational settings. And yet, common sense has evaded the upper echelons of the Washington bureaucracy, requiring the judiciary, in response to our lawsuit, to clarify once again for our president and his lackeys how laws work. 

Parents don’t want their elementary students to be taught gender ideology. Fairfax County doesn’t care

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. This piece originally appeared in Washington Examiner.

Last week, Fairfax County’s school board members sent an email to the district’s residents soliciting feedback in a survey on the proposed changes to the family life education curriculum.

The school board’s appointed Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee members’ recommendations for this year include gender identity instruction in elementary school and an age-inappropriate puberty video for all fourth graders that shares graphic information about the development of both sexes.

Parents were left scratching their heads and wondering why they received another survey about this committee’s recommendations. Respondents to last year’s survey about the advisory committee’s previous proposed changes to the sex education curriculum demonstrated overwhelming community disapproval. But last year’s vile recommendations were passed unanimously in the committee anyway, demonstrating its complete lack of ideological diversity and its disregard for parental input. There were and are conservative applicants for the committee — they are just ignored.

And last year’s recommendations arguably were even more explicitly absurd than this year’s recommendations. They included combining sexes for family life education starting in fourth grade, beginning gender identity instruction in elementary school, and replacing all the words “male/female” with “assigned male/female at birth.”

Parents and community members said, “No way.” In fact, 84% of respondents to the school board’s survey objected to the recommendation that boys and girls should be taught sex education together.

At a work session after these survey results were made public, the district’s superintendent, Michelle Reid, said, “Honestly, the majority doesn’t always dictate, right?”

The truth is that neither the advisory committee nor Fairfax County’s school board members reportedly intended for those survey results to be made public. But along came the Fairfax County Parents Association, the school board’s undesired accountability buddy, to the parents’ rescue. On March 4, 2023, the Fairfax County Parents Association publicized the survey results in a tweet, and likely delayed the school board’s plans to force gender identity down our young children’s throats — for a year, at least.

And here we are again, a year later. Last year’s survey results went against what the school board, its advisory committee, and the district’s administration intended, so they never voted on the recommendations. They seemed simply to hope that time would erase parents’ memories and divert their attention.

In the lead-up to this year’s vote, activist board members likely hope to yield favorable survey results this time around on the proposed changes. To that end, I would bet they will activate the LGBT community inside and outside of Fairfax County to respond to the survey before the deadline on June 10.

The ideological inclinations of this year’s survey’s authors and its intended audience are clear. In addition to other demographic information, the survey poses a question about the respondent’s gender identity. The choices are agender, cisgender, genderqueer, man, nonbinary/gender diverse, transgender, woman, and, in case the extra-special respondents do not identify with any of these, “other” is an option as well.

A concerned Fairfax County resident sent an email to school board Chairman Karl Frisch asking him if the school board would vote on last year’s recommendations in addition to this year’s recommendations and, if so, when they intended to vote. He did not respond before the publication of this article.

For a school board and administration that speaks so much about inclusion, they certainly do have a nefarious way of excluding parental input that thwarts their leftist agenda in our children’s schools.

In the end, it probably doesn’t even matter what the new survey results show. The school board will inevitably vote in favor of forcing gender ideology into the elementary school curriculum regardless of what parents think is appropriate. And that, in a nutshell, is what the Left means by “inclusion.”

Public Elementary Schools Deploy Leftists’ Favorite DEI Terms — And Refuse To Define Them

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. This piece originally appeared in The Federalist.

With the rise of leftist, anti-Israel protests on college campuses, Americans increasingly recognize the dangers of the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) cancer in higher education. Some states, such as Florida and Alabama, have rightfully taken measures to stem the flow of public resources to DEI’s leftist agenda in public institutions.

But what fewer Americans are aware of is that the DEI mafia is surreptitiously and effectively manipulating our young children beginning in their public elementary schools and beyond. Many public school districts are also subjecting their students to overtly discriminatory regulations. Fairfax County’s public schools, located just outside our nation’s capital in the largest school district in Virginia, are top among them.

On May 15, I wrote an email to the district’s chief equity officer, Nardos King. I posed simple questions: What are the definitions of “marginalized groups” and “protected class” — and which social groups are included in each category? She refused to provide clear answers.

Discriminatory Terms Coded in Public School Policies

These terms are particularly important because the school district bases policy on them. For example, teachers are allowed to display flags of “marginalized groups.” According to an email I received from a middle school principal in Fairfax County, Black Lives Matter is a marginalized group, so teachers are free to display that leftist flag in the district’s classrooms.

The classification is strange. Black Lives Matter is a sociopolitical movement that does not represent all black people. It is unclear how BLM could be considered a marginalized group, and the designation reflects obvious viewpoint discrimination. Given that our children are subjected to the operationalization of these terms, parents and students should have a right to see what other groups are on that list.

The district’s Educational Equity Policy, passed by the school board in June 2023, also uses the term “marginalization.” The point of that policy is for students to have equal outcomes, such as grades. To that end, the district has experimented with “equitable grading” to uplift so-called marginalized groups.

Many parents fear that academically elite, hard-working students will be unrecognizable in their college applications as a result. In other words, hard work and talent are not rewarded when equal outcomes, and not merit, are the priority.

Fairfax County Public Schools also uses the term “protected class.” Although this is a federally recognized term, its definition and application are unclear at the local level in public schools. In the district’s code of conduct, “discriminatory harassment” seems only to apply to protected classes. The code states, “Discriminatory harassment is unwanted conduct toward an individual based on their actual or perceived age, race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, marital status, disability, or any other legally protected class.”

Does that mean to suggest that nonprotected classes — which without question include heterosexual, white males — are not covered by this rule? Are these children fair game for harassment based on their race and sexual orientation? Is it less serious when they are harassed? For the sake of policy clarity, the school district must explicitly provide implementation details. But they do not.

Vague Definitions

In response to my first email, King provided me with vague definitions and declined to elaborate on which specific social groups were considered “protected.” She wrote, “[A] protected class is a group of people who are legally shielded from discrimination based on certain characteristics … [such as] race, color, religion, national origin, sex (which covers gender identity and sexual orientation), pregnancy/childbirth, age, marital status, disability, veteran status, and genetic information.”

Even King was not completely clear on the district’s definition of “marginalized groups.” She wrote, “While we may not have an official definition for ‘marginalized group,’ it generally refers to people who face systemic disadvantages and discrimination. This can include women, underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, individuals based on gender identity and sexual orientation, people of various ages, individuals with physical disabilities, and non-native language speakers.”

While she stated whom it may include, she did not clarify whom it does include. Pushing back on her in response, I wrote, “I remain a bit unclear about which social groups belong in each category. For example, are women a marginalized group in schools? They are not in the minority and don’t seem to have problems getting jobs in the schools or with access to higher education.”

Two days later, and likely after speaking to the district’s legal counsel, she referred me to four district policies that are supposed to clarify the meanings and specifications of the terms. They did not, so I responded, “Would you please explain this to me? My question is quite simple: Which social groups are classified in FCPS [Fairfax County Public Schools] code as ‘marginalized’ and/or ‘protected’ and which are not?” As of publication, I have not received a response to my simple question.

A Recommendation for Districts That Institutionalize Discrimination

Alvin Lui, the founder of Courage Is A Habit, is right to say that the left “uses your vocabulary but not your dictionary.” It has been the left’s strategy to redefine words that we thought had clear definitions, such as “woman,” or Ibram X Kendi’s racist ideology of “antiracism.” For words such as “marginalized groups,” they are intentionally vague as a strategy.

In the case of leftist school districts that wield authority over our children, we need to push them on their discriminatory terms and the resulting implementation. To that end, if they insist on exposing America’s children in public schools to these absurdities, I would like to see an identity points matrix that stipulates the value of each child based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity, etc. as these school administrators see it.

At least then, we would all be looking at the same playbook. More importantly, we would be able to prove the clear violations of our children’s constitutional rights in court.

Biden’s Woke Title IX Rule Is So Insane, It Forces Kids And Teachers To Lie

This op-ed was written by Angela Morabito, visiting fellow with Independent Women’s Forum. Originally appeared on Fox News.

The American left has invented its own lexicon, in which “mothers” are erased in favor of “birthing people,” “inclusivity” excludes conservatives, and “woman” means “anyone who identifies as female.” 

Until now, anyone who rejected this false language around sex has had the freedom not to use it. But President Joe Biden’s new Title IX rule is about to make woke-speak the official language of our nation’s public schools. 

The rule redefines “sex” to include “gender identity,” which means schools must treat students not according to whether they are a boy or a girl, but whether they identify as a boy or a girl. As a result, “misgendering” someone – or referring to him or her by the “wrong” pronoun – could create a hostile environment, which amounts to sex-based discrimination. Because it is sex-based discrimination, schools are obligated to stop it.  

If a school allows such a speech crime to go unchecked, it could find itself on the receiving end of a federal investigation, which may result in the Department of Education yanking its federal funding. 

Referring to a boy as “he” is now cause for alarm, if the “he” in question would rather be referred to as “she.” So, too, is calling a trans-identifying person by his or her given name. School employees and students must use the child’s preferred name and pronouns, even if the child’s parents don’t want to do so.  

The parents might not even have the opportunity to object. Nothing in the rule requires schools to notify parents if their child requests a new name and gender identity while at school.   

This creates a nightmare for teachers and students who don’t believe this nonsense. If a student or teacher at your child’s school chooses to go by a different name and pronouns, your child will be forced to be complicit in affirming that new identity when speaking to or about that person. The Biden administration is trampling on the right to free speech and freedom of religion to appease the radical left.

To pretend that the categories “male” and “female” have little to do with biology will confuse the country’s youngest students, who are only beginning to learn the meaning of words and how to identify similarities and differences in the world around them.  

No one is stopping any child or teacher from calling someone else by their preferred name or pronouns. But just as individuals deserve the freedom to do that, they deserve the freedom not to. 

In the leftist lexicon, male and female are not the only genders, but just two out of an infinite number of possibilities. This creates a nightmare for enforcement. Is it discrimination, in the eyes of the administration, for schools to tell an “agender” or “nonbinary” student to use either a male or female restroom? How should administrators respond if a teacher calls a “genderfluid” student by a male name on a day the student feels more female?  

These are the questions brought about when government leaders ignore biology to appease a new privileged class, whose self-image will soon be valued higher than truth in our nation’s schools.  

The new rule is deeply harmful, not only to students who will be forced to “affirm” a lie, but also to the students who reject their sex. The vast majority of students who experience gender dysphoria will grow out of it without medical intervention. Having their peers and teachers treat them according to their chosen identity not reality simply sets them up for long-term confusion and distress.  

This government-imposed manipulation of language results in the loss of sex-segregated spaces in colleges and K-12 schools. Under Biden’s new rule, allowing boys in girls’ locker rooms, sports teams, restrooms and dormitories is not a violation of Title IX.  

He has robbed the law of its original meaning and replaced it with a radical nightmare for women and girls. The Biden regime says that a man in the women’s locker room does not constitute a hostile environment, but repeated “misgendering” might.  

The Defense of Freedom Institute, joined by the States of Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi and Idaho, the Louisiana Department of Education, and 18 Louisiana school districts, has sued the Biden administration to halt this rule before it takes effect on August 1. Ending the rule would benefit students, parents, and teachers who deserve better than this egregious step backward for civil rights and free speech.