Nov 27, 2002
Kilgore: Anti-gay discrimination protection not allowed
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) _ Anti-discrimination protection for gays and lesbians should not be added to Fairfax County School Board policies without a change in state law, Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said. [Current GOP House and Senate in Richmond will NEVER vote for pro-normalization of homosexuality]
Kilgore told the board in a written opinion that it does not have the authority to add language protecting gays because such a statute does not exist on the state level.
His opinion was in response to a request by Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr., R-Fairfax, to allow the board to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policies for students and employees. The policy already covers age, race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status and the handicapped.
But Kilgore said the state's Dillon Rule prohibits local governments from superseding state authority.
"This office previously has concluded that, without enabling legislation, Fairfax County has no authority to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation," Kilgore wrote.
Gay activists decried the opinion and noted that the Arlington and Alexandria school districts have policies barring discrimination against gays, despite the state law. Those measures have not been challenged.
"They want to continue to say that gay people can be discriminated against," said Rhonda Buckner, executive director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Fairfax School Board Chairman Stuart C. Gibson said it was unlikely the board would follow the other localities' lead, but said discussion on the issue would continue.
"I think there are ways that the School Board can provide for the general safety of its employees and students without changing state law," Gibson said. "We're not done with this."
The issue was brought before the Fairfax School Board by gay-rights activists last July. Nervous about how a new nondiscrimination policy would be interpreted, and whether it would lead to lawsuits, Gibson sought advice from Callahan and Kilgore.
Sexual orientation is protected in the Fairfax County government's nondiscrimination policy for personnel. But the county has not been able to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, real estate transactions, employment, public accommodations, credit and education.
On the Net:
Fairfax County Public Schools: Fairfax
Office of the Attorney General: Kilgore