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School board member sues after being punished for Facebook post

| Reuters/Jonathan Drake

A Virginia school board member has filed a lawsuit claiming that her colleagues censured her for posting a critique of the district’s transgender bathroom policy on social media. 

Angela Allen, vice chairwoman of the Goochland County School Board, filed the lawsuit Monday with the help of the Founding Freedoms Law Center. 

Filed in the Circuit Court for Goochland County, Allen accuses her fellow school board members of defamation and civil conspiracy.

“Given the vitriol that four members of the Goochland School Board expressed against Angela Allen when she announced the school’s policy on bathroom use, parents have reason to wonder what else may be intentionally hidden from them,” Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation and Founding Freedoms Law Center, told The Christian Post in a Thursday statement. 

In January, Allen posted a statement about the school district’s transgender restroom policies in a Facebook post that also emphasized her “duty” to represent the district community’s interests. The lawsuit contends that the social media post was “neutral,” stating that it requested information and offered community members a chance to comment.

“This week I learned that [Goochland County Public Schools] students are allowed to use restrooms different from their biological sex. Is this our community’s expectation?” Allen wrote. 

The board vice president published the Facebook post after a “concerned citizen” whose relative attended Goochland Middle School informed Allen that the school allowed students to use restrooms that do not align with their biological sex. The report contradicted what Allen had previously been told: that the school district did not have a policy permitting students to use whatever bathroom they wanted if they identified as trans. 

After asking the defendants named in the suit whether they were aware of the district’s policy on the issue, one of Allen’s colleagues reportedly berated her for asking questions. The same board member allegedly confirmed that she was aware of the district’s actual bathroom policy. 

After the social media post, community members began attending board meetings in February and March to express their “dismay and disapproval” of the policy during the public comment portion. In addition, board members received dozens of emails from constituents about the transgender bathroom policy, according to the lawsuit.

Despite assurances that she would not face any action from the board in response to her post, four board members expressed disapproval and officially censured Allen during a May school board meeting. 

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants worked secretly to silence Allen for communicating with the community about the district’s policy. The document accuses the four board members of trying to harm Allen’s reputation, which the suit noted could ruin her chances of re-election to the GCSB. 

Allen reportedly was unaware of the intention to censure her until the board meeting on May 9. According to the suit, the censure resolution was made a public record and presented during a public meeting in front of an in-person and virtual audience.

The resolution accused the GCSB vice president of violating the school board’s ethics code, federal law and the Constitution, claiming that the Facebook post offered a “distorted characterization” of the district’s policies.

The GCSB responded to a Thursday inquiry from CP by attaching a statement drafted by all four school board members. The four members wrote that Allen’s lawsuit is “meritless” and accused her of attempting to “intimidate the members of the School Board into silence.”

In a statement provided to CP, Josh Hetzler, legal counsel for Founding Freedoms Law Center, insisted that the board members should face “accountability” for “wrongfully attacking Ms. Allen and for harming her reputation.” 

“The defendants made knowingly false statements against Ms. Allen to disparage her reputation all because she exposed a policy they apparently wanted to remain hidden from their Constituents,” Hetzler said. 

Allen stated that her integrity and “accountability” for the school board members mentioned in the lawsuit are her primary concern with this case. She maintained that the board members had lied about her because she told the truth about the district’s bathroom policy. 

“In other words, they punished me for doing exactly what I was elected to do,” Allen said. “Ultimately, if they can get away with this without consequences, then this can happen to any school board member in any district, so I feel I have a responsibility to stand up to it.”

The lawsuit is not the first time a Virginia school district has attracted controversy for lack of transparency concerning transgender bathroom policies. 

In May, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it had launched an investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools over concerns about how it handled two separate sexual assault incidents carried out by the same male student in 2021. 

During the first assault, which occurred at Stone Bridge High School on May 28, 2021, a male student wore a skirt and assaulted a girl inside the girls’ restroom. The male student was subsequently transferred to Broad Run High School, where he sexually assaulted another girl on Oct. 6, 2021.

Superintendent Scott Ziegler told parents in June 2021 that “we don’t have any records of assaults occurring in our restrooms.” Ziegler made the statement in response to concerns about Policy 8040, which would allow students to enter bathrooms that do not correspond with their biological sex. The district later approved the policy in August 2021. 

As a special grand jury report noted, the superintendent’s statement was a “bald-faced lie,” and the report also noted that LCPS’s “lack of curiosity and adherence to operating in silos” allowed the second sexual assault to occur.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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