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Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
May 20, 2024 - 4 minutes
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Opinion

Fairfax County’s public schools have codified a secret, discriminatory hierarchy

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.


The terms “marginalized group” and “protected class” are being used to hold some students’ interests, access to resources, and safety above others in Fairfax County’s public schools.

Earlier this week, I requested information from Nardos King, the district’s chief equity officer, about the definitions and operationalization details for the broad terms. Her response left me with more questions.

On Wednesday, she sent me an email that read, “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.”

The district’s Educational Equity Policy, passed by the school board in June 2023, uses the term “marginalization.” While King’s response specified whom the policy may include, it did not say which groups of students it does include. Given that this dichotomy of marginalized and nonmarginalized students is explicitly codified into local public policy, Fairfax County Public Schools should have a public document that specifies how it implements these terms into policy. Such a document would need to state explicitly which groups are marginalized — and which are not.

Of course, the reason such a document does not exist is because the school district deliberately overuses and abuses these terms for its political objectives. In 2021, for example, I emailed a school administrator to question why Black Lives Matter and transgender flags were being displayed in the engineering classroom of a middle school when both flags are arguably political. She responded, “FCPS does allow stickers/signs/posters, etc. that express support for traditionally marginalized groups which does include Black Lives Matter and Pride Flags.”

Assuming that black people constitute one of the marginalized groups according to the district’s unwritten definition, it is unclear how that would include Black Lives Matter, a socio-political movement, in part composed of many white people, that does not represent the viewpoint of all black people. Why is that flag allowed in a classroom when presumably Blue Lives Matter flags are not? This is a clear case of viewpoint discrimination obscurely codified in district policy under the sanctimonious banner of equity.

For clarification, I asked the district’s chief equity officer to explicitly identify which groups belong in the “marginalized” and “non-marginalized” categories. She did not respond before the publication of this article.

Notably, she is the person responsible for implementing the district’s bias incident reporting system, which is scheduled to go into effect in July. Will King create a threshold for reporting incidents of biases where only some groups count? If so, the district should at least tell parents which groups of our children it thinks matter and which do not.

Asian Americans, for example, are a minority, but not the right kind. Fairfax County Public Schools has been overt in its institutionalized discrimination against them in the admissions changes at the district’s magnet school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Presumably, Asian Americans did not make the cut for the “marginalized groups” list.

Are women marginalized in the education space, as King mentioned? They seem to represent the majority of teachers and well-paid administrators in our district, and they are overrepresented in colleges and graduate schools across the nation. To argue that women are disadvantaged in education is laughable — except maybe in terms of their privacy in school bathrooms and locker rooms, which district administrators willfully have violated with their so-called “inclusive” policies for transgender students.

The district policy on flag displays suggests that “gender-diverse” students are offered a special marginalized status. I guess if a student doesn’t make the cut on the other race, sexual orientation, or gender metrics — white, heterosexual males, in particular — district policy incentivizes the declaration of a non-binary gender identity. They wouldn’t need to commit to anything life-changing and they could still feel special and get better treatment from teachers and district officials with a simple statement.

Joking aside, we know that FCPS administrators are intentionally discriminating against some children on the basis of identity. It’s time for the district to make its social group hierarchy lists public. Who specifically gets special consideration and who does not?

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
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