By Wendi Strauch Mahoney – June 10, 2021
Parents, teachers, and a lone school board member continue to heat things up in Loudoun County School Board meetings in their fight against Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the K-12 public schools there. One hundred and twenty-three (123) citizens showed up to speak at 4 p.m. on a hot Tuesday afternoon this week. There were only a handful of people who spoke in favor of CRT at the meeting.
The Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) have been accused of promoting biased social justice materials in all grades there. The Virginia county also sought to discourage the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s books on their Read Across America Day celebrations associated with the author’s birthday.
A new superintendent, Scott Ziegler, was also named at the meeting. He has served as interim superintendent for Eric Williams since Jan 1. Williams resigned in late 2020. Many parents indicated displeasure with the appointment, saying they did not feel he listens to their concerns. The meeting was over three hours long.
On Tuesday, Juli Briskman, who is on the Board of Supervisors, wrote a letter supporting the board’s mission to adopt a CRT curriculum. She states in her letter that “LCPS has a low level of racial consciousness.”
Briskman is a member of the Anti-Racist Facebook group of parents and at least one school board member that targeted the families who do not want to see CRT in the schools. She is pictured here flipping off President Trump as he drove by in his motorcade. Her actions and the photo were made public. Shortly thereafter, she was elected to the board.
Emmy-award-winning newsman John Spiropoulos asked UncoverDC to cover the June 8 School Board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia.
UncoverDC has been collaborating with Spiropoulos since April on a 15 to 20 part short film series, ranging from 5-7 minutes each, on the subject of CRT called “The Poison in Our Schools,” to be released in mid-to-late August.
UncoverDC and Michelle, a veteran camerawoman hired by Spiropoulos, spent most of the day outside working with organizers Elicia Brand and Scott Mineo, who kindly braved the withering heat to round up a spectacular lineup of interviews with impassioned local citizens. Mineo is the brains behind the group, Parents Against Critical Race Theory or PACT. He hopes to educate and support parents and teachers nationwide with their battle to keep “indoctrination” out of the schools. Mineo explains:
“PACT believes that freedom of speech and diversity of thought are fundamental structures of a free society and should always be protected and celebrated. We have taken a stand against the insidious Critical Race Theory ideology, and we are actively helping Americans across the country who recognize the imminent threat that CRT presents to our country, their community and are helping them get organized to fight back.”
Brand, a mother of three, is deeply worried about the direction of the county’s schools:
“Our children are being taught to hate our country, to deny our heroes, to feel guilt and shame for the sins of fathers that weren’t even theirs; instead of being taught correctly, so history never repeats. Our children are not being taught to thrive. They are being taught to be equal to or less then. They are not being taught the importance of meritocracy but the reliance on equitability. Pride and effort are not valued. Individuality, Positivity, and Hope is not celebrated.”
“This is a fight that knows no hours,” she continued, “The newest hashtag is #AllDayEveryDay. We can’t give up when we get tired. The stakes are too high. They want our kids. They need our kids to achieve their Neo-Marxist agenda. We are not willing to give them up. Once our kids are indoctrinated by the schools, they are dependent on the system. Uneducated, lazy, unconfident kids become adults who are dependent on the government and who will be much more pliable to its will.”
Outside the Board Meeting, many in the community gathered to protest CRT and celebrate the court ruling by Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James Plowman concerning elementary physical education teacher Tanner Cross. Cross was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian legal group.
Cross was placed on administrative leave on May 25th for telling the school board that it would be against his faith to address transgender children according to their identified gender preference.
At a May 25th speech during the public comment section of a Loudoun County School Board meeting, he stated that he loves “all of [his] students, but he will never lie to them regardless of the consequences.” He also explained that gender dysphoria is heartbreaking and cited having watched a recent 60 minutes report on the subject of children who regret having transitioned with hormone treatment and now wish to de-transition.
About 30 young people “were interviewed who transitioned,” Cross explained, “but they felt lead astray because of lack of pushback or how easy it was to make physical changes in their bodies in just three months.” The children interviewed “are now de-transitioning,” he continued. His preference to call them by their biological gender nearly cost him his job. He was reinstated on Tuesday.
A group of faith-based youth showed up at the rally to support Cross. They sang Christian music and held up signs in support of Cross.
Justin Mooney, pictured above second from the right, told UncoverDC that he was there not only to support Cross but to “support freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
UncoverDC interviewed several local citizens, including teachers. Only one school board member, John Beatty, has been willing to risk being shunned by the board to stand up for his beliefs. While Beatty is a soft-spoken man, he was as passionate as any other parent interviewed on Tuesday. He expressed concerns about the “equity” piece of the CRT curriculum. Equity is a concept that is wholly different from the concept of equality.
Equality means that citizen A and citizen B are treated equally. Equity means ‘adjusting shares to make citizens A and B equal.’ Ian Prior also attended. He is a very vocal and local activist focused on the fallacies of equity. Prior formed an activist’s platform to fight CRT in schools called, FightForSchools.com.
Beatty explains his viewpoint on the CRT curriculum:
“Equity,” he says, “is judging people by the color of their skin which, in my view, is judging people by the color of their skin…it’s the wrong way to solve some of the societal problems we see. Racism exists; there’s certainly injustices in the world. But the underpinnings of critical race theory are that we need to divide people based on racial lines or identity lines, and I don’t think dividing people is going to bring us together. I think it’s going to cause more rifts in our society and cause more hurt in our communities.”
Many in the community have been bullied for standing up. Parent after parent spoke about the “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County Facebook group,” “affectionately” named “Chardonnay Antifa” by the parents who have been fighting CRT in the schools. Sadly, School Board member, Beth Barts, led the charge, actively encouraging parents in the county to target the parents who disagree with CRT.
The parents against CRT were allegedly put on lists, threatened, and their names doxxed all over social media. The Anti-racist groups made “calls for volunteers” on Facebook to gather information, infiltrate the Facebook groups of the parents battling with the schools, spread and communicate information and find hackers to shut down pages associated with groups who do not want CRT in the schools.
UncoverDC heard many parents say they are scared and angry about being targeted. They also said that the targeting has now moved to bullying their children in some cases.
Elementary music education teacher Lilit Vanetsyan whose impassioned speech in the March 9 School Board meeting went viral. Vanetsyan is poised and confident in her belief that children are best served when bias and indoctrination are kept out of the curriculum. Lilit also went head to head with the board over her refusal to wear a mask because of a medical exemption. She told them it was embarrassing to be asked about her refusal to wear a mask in front of everyone there. Here is what Lilit told UncoverDC:
“I am here to speak up for parents, teachers, and students who are maybe too afraid to come out and speak up for their education…I am seeing a lot of critical race theory training that they are putting us teachers through first, and they do that to brainwash and indoctrinate the teachers before we take all that material and use that to brainwash your children…it has nothing to do with teaching our course. It has nothing to do with teaching our material. It has everything to do with checking your micro-aggressions, checking your white privilege, and all these things that are solely based around race. I’m concerned that our children are graduating high school with a 1.5 GPA, fourth-grade reading level, zero critical thinking skills, and we are wasting our time and taxpayer money to teach them that they are racist.”
Vanetsyan’s speech received loud applause—applauding is not allowed during the meeting. In fact, about halfway through public comment, a parent received applause, and the school board walked out due to “lack of decorum.” They returned about 10 minutes later.
A mother of six boys, Patti Hidalgo-Menders, was particularly pointed in her criticism of CRT because she is a first-generation American whose parents escaped Communism in Cuba.
“I know what socialism looks like! My parents escaped communist Cuba in 1961, and they used the children against the parents. They shut down universities and churches and implemented government overreach. Critical race theory divides the students.”
Below, a mother who experienced Maoist China as a child explained the horrors of Communist China, saying, “all of this sounds very familiar.”
Joe Mobley, a U.S. Army veteran and the host of the conservative podcast The Joe Mobley Show, told UncoverDC that he had attended the board meetings because:
“If we don’t nip it in the bud now, then things are going to be really nasty in 25 or 30 years…when the Chardonnay Antifa thing happened…it made a stir immediately—and—I’m like, they can’t have done this, and then I look at the screenshots, and I look at the members, and I look at their actual public-facing confirmed accounts—and I said, ‘I can’t believe they did this!’…
Joe also spoke about the possible misuse of procurement contracts due to the pandemic:
“Having worked in government contracts for a long time, the secrecy—huge red flag, where procurement policies are done in darkness, they’re done under the guise of emergency. There’s no emergency that facilitates that we need to buy naughty books for kids…They’re talking about really explicit sex acts,” he continued, “things that involve violence—things that would get you put on a lot of lists if you were to say them at work. If we say them at work, we get fired because it’s harassment. I think it’s harassment to say it to kids.”
Reporting by UncoverDC on the March 11 school board meeting showed parents reading excerpts from the books Mobley mentioned above. Mobley went on to say that the “most alarming” red flag has to do with the way the schools seem to be unconsciously grooming children for the very kinds of activities seen in sex trafficking.
The parents also presented, for the first time, their “Loudoun County Public Schools Parents Bill of Rights” to “rebuild trust with the board.” The rights were printed on a series of ten separate poster boards because each parent only had one minute to speak. So, in succession, they presented each of the ten rights in order on the poster board while reading the contents.
Parents’ Bill of Rights/The Parents of Loudoun County/June 8, 2021:
Teacher Jeremy Wright shunned the school board because, in his opinion, they don’t listen and, instead, spoke to the audience. He asked the “Chardonnay Antifa” to brush up on their Constitution and Bill of Rights as he gave them a copy of both at the podium. He said the board no longer serves the community or the students but is just a “partisan activist group.”
“We’ve been lied to, attacked, silenced, and have had our jobs threatened. They counted on us to fold, but they counted wrong…Tanner was invited to speak here, voiced his opinions due to faith, and was banned from LCPS property. Now that he’s been reinstated by a judge, we must ensure this never happens again…”
Julie Perry considers herself a minority at this point. She explains below that she has been targeted and “bullied” for being a conservative educator. Perry is running for HD-86 in Virginia. She becomes a little choked-up when she explains her experiences with some of the staff in the district.
The fight against CRT in schools is not limited to Loudoun County. UncoverDC recently reported on a fierce group of Moms who formed the Williamson County Mom’s For Liberty Chapter in its article called, “Critical Race Theory is Waking the Lions.” UncoverDC also visited with local radio host Ben Cunningham to discuss what is going on in Tennessee concerning CRT. House Republicans announced bills to defund CRT at the federal level, including in the schools, the federal workforce, and the military.
Many states are also banning CRT. Tennessee recently joined Oklahoma, Idaho, and South Dakota, among others. Kinetic Faith in Pennsylvania promotes “boots on the ground” training to empower people to fight against issues like CRT and issues associated with gender education in schools. The organization is leading a county initiative in Eastern Lancaster County (ELANCO) to define gender and biological sex in schools from a more traditional point of view.
Parents all over the country are fighting to reclaim their schools, returning to a focus on reading, writing, math, science, and American history that reflects the fullness of our heritage, including the parts where we stumbled and made efforts to repair the mistakes.