Apr 13, 2017
RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Supreme Court issued its opinion today in Lafferty v. Fairfax, the challenge to the Fairfax County School Board’s unlawful action of adding “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” to its policy and student handbook.
The Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision dismissing the case and held that none of the plaintiffs had sufficient legal standing to challenge the unlawful policy. The Court stated that: (1) Jack Doe’s alleged injury was too speculative because he had not been punished under the policy; (2) that John and Jane Doe do not have next friend standing for the same reasons Jack Doe has no standing; and (3) none of the plaintiffs qualify for taxpayer standing.
Liberty Counsel represents Jake Doe, a minor, John and Jane, the parents and Andrea Lafferty. This is one of several cases around the country. After consulting with clients, the case may be refiled based on new developments that occurred since the original suit.
Virginia follows the “Dillon Rule,” which requires local nondiscrimination laws to not be more stringent than the state law. State law does not include “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” or “gender expression.” Neither the circuit court nor the Supreme Court reached a decision concerning the merits of this policy, and neither issued any opinion on the ability of the local school board to enact such policies that are plainly inconsistent with state law.
“While the Fairfax Country School Board temporarily dodged the issue, new developments in the application of this unlawful policy may result in a new suit. There is no doubt the school board intends to enforce this policy,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Liberty Counsel is not finished fighting for the safety of Jack Doe and public school students in Fairfax County. We are exploring all possible avenues to further challenge these policies and are confident that we will prevail when the courts reach the merits of these challenges,” said Staver.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.