The Supreme Court issued a pair of momentous rulings this week, and Arlington’s Congressional delegation is celebrating both.
On Monday, the high court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ individuals from workplace discrimination. Earlier today, it blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Arlington’s Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said the DACA ruling is “a great moment” for the nation, but cautioned that more work is to be done to reform the immigration system.
Dreamers are Americans, they belong here. This ruling is a great moment for the United States. It is important to remember, though, that even with this decision from the Supreme Court very important work remains. The ball once again is in Congress’ court to pass meaningful, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken immigration system in ways which reflect our values as a nation of immigrants. The Senate could take a big step forward in that regard at any time by passing the Dream and Promise Act.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) likewise cheered the decision.
President Trump’s decision to end DACA plunged hundreds of thousands of innocent young people into legal limbo and wreaked havoc upon nearly every area of American life. I’m so thankful the Court has put an end to this Administration’s ill-conceived broken promise. Congress should now pass the HEROES Act to prevent the deportation of undocumented essential workers during the pandemic and the American Dream and Promise Act to permanently protect these kids and young adults.
Earlier this week, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said via social media that the Supreme Court “did the right thing” in giving LGBTQ Americans protection against employment discrimination under law.
It was *always* wrong to fire a person simply for being gay or transgender. I’m so glad the Supreme Court did the right thing today. https://t.co/PSZwT4cA2S
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) June 15, 2020
Virginia became the first Southern state to ban conversion therapy for people under the age of 18, thanks in part to Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D). Hope’s bill, HB 386, was signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday, March 2.
Conversion therapy “is any of several dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth. Virginia is the twentieth state in the country to have banned the practice.
Hope first proposed the conversion therapy ban seven years ago, and has continued to do so during each legislative session, but before this year it kept getting killed in the Republican-majority subcommittees.
Hope deems the success of the bill “very partisan,” crediting the Democratic majority in both houses of the General Assembly in getting the bill passed. This is the first time in 26 years that the Democrats have controlled the state government.
The path to the ban, however, involved some bipartisan cooperation.
The Virginia Department of Health Professions played a role in building the bill. In 2018, the Chairman of the Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee, Bobby Orrock (R), turned to the Dept. of Health Professions to regulate conversion therapy practices without the help of lawmakers. The department had refrained from doing so for the past seven years because officials felt that the state legislature was sending them a message by killing the conversion therapy ban in subcommittee so many times.
However, after Orrock reached out, the department created a workgroup to look into the issue and, because of Hope’s work on the bill, he was asked to take part.
“[The Dept. of Health Professions] set up a workgroup, and I was a part of that workgroup,” Hope said. “They got all the chairs of all the different health professions that touch conversion therapy — so they had social workers, they had psychiatrists, they had psychologist, they had school counselors, etc. — they had everyone who might have a hand in conversion therapy. And they all decided in at that meeting for each of them to develop their own regulations prohibiting conversion therapy.”
The meetings informed the details of the bill. In the end, however, it was the Democratic majority that gave Del. Hope the victory he had been seeking for seven years.
“It really is a defining moment,” Hope said. “To be the 20th state and the first state in the South to [ban conversion therapy] really shows how hearts and minds have changed across the country and I couldn’t be more proud.”
I am not a woman or a man. I am an Arlingtonian.
In the twenty-first century, gender is social limitation. Biological differences between sexes are irrelevant in the age of AC, GPS, and iPads for middle-schoolers. ‘Gender roles,’ we often say, are archaic and obsolete. Gender limits women’s salaries to four-fifths of men’s, and limits men to emotionally-stunted friendships and a suicide rate three times higher than women’s. It limits girls from enjoying the thrill of a touchdown and boys from the elegance of a flowing dress. It limits how we eat, how we speak, and how we love.
But gender doesn’t limit me. I deny its two traditional roles. My friends refer to me as ‘they,’ rather than ‘she’ or ‘he.’ At work, I might wear a necktie, button-down, and a skirt. I don’t deny that I grew up with a gender, but I have chosen to live beyond it.
I call myself ‘nonbinary.’ Others use other terms: ‘gender nonconforming,’ or ‘two-spirit,’ or ‘genderfluid,’ or ‘enbie.’ My generation has found many labels for an identity that defines itself through freedom.
This life comes with its own limitations. I uninstalled some dating apps because they don’t include nonbinary options. At work, I have to walk up an extra flight of stairs to get to the gender-neutral bathrooms (which are legally mandated in D.C., but not in Arlington). Sometimes people look at me funny on the Metro. But I’m freer than I ever could have been as a boy or a girl.
On a sunny Saturday a few weeks ago, I visited the new makerspace at the Central branch of the Arlington Public Library. It’s an inspiring place, embodying our community’s respect for learning. In the building where I learned as a child to love to read, people are finding creativity in mediums from embroidery to 3D printing. That afternoon, I learned to make buttons.
Buttons: they’re for politics, they’re for low culture, they’re for art, they’re for identification. I spun off a quick design. A shiny button an inch across, with the blue-pink-white-pink-blue transgender flag in the background (flip it upside-down and it’s the same). In the center, I drew the outline of our 26 square miles. Superimposed, three words: “Arlington is nonbinary.”
“Arlington is nonbinary.” What does that mean? For me, it holds three truths.
In the first sense, it’s literally true. Like me, this county is neither a woman nor a man. No geographic locale is a woman or a man. Maybe this is pedantic, but I think it’s a nice thing to remember.
In a second interpretation, Arlington is nonbinary because it is an exceptionally welcoming place for those of us who are nonbinary or transgender.
After I’d punched out a few dozen buttons, an adult at the next table interrupted.
“Excuse me,” she asked, “could I have one of those?”
She was a teacher at one of our middle schools, and had recently seen a student through a gender transition. The student, she said, never faced any bullying — at least, not for being trans. The teacher wanted a single button to put on her desk, and I gave her handfuls of them.
It’s Election Day — Voting today in Arlington will take place between 6 a.m.-7 p.m. at your local polling place. Most of the local candidates in competitive races penned essays describing why Arlington residents should vote for them. [Arlington County]
‘Baby Trump’ Greeting Key Bridge Commuters — Arlington Democrats have inflated a 13-foot “Baby Trump” on the Virginia side of the Key Bridge as part of a get-out-the-vote message. [Twitter]
Anti-Trans Group is Based in Shirlington — “From the 12th floor of a glass office tower in the Washington suburbs, a campaign to sway the governor’s race in Kentucky on Tuesday is being waged with an alarmist claim that has little to do with the race itself: If Democrats have their way, soon boys will be able to compete against girls in school sports.” [New York Times]
Growing Season Over in D.C. Area — “As of this morning, the growing season has been declared to have ended across our entire forecast area. Frost and freeze [watches and warnings] will not be issued again until Spring 2020.” [Twitter]
Pedestrian Enforcement in Clarendon Tomorrow — “As part of the Street Smart campaign, officers will conduct high-visibility traffic enforcement… November 6th from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. [on the] 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard (Pedestrian Enforcement Detail).” [ARLnow]
Nearby: Va. Tech Unveils Plan for Potomac Yard — “Plans are starting to take shape for North Potomac Yard. Virginia Tech has submitted its first concept plan, showing what its Innovation Campus will look like just as the design of the Potomac Yard Metro station nears its final design phase.” [ALXnow]
APS Students Now Can Identify as Nonbinary — “Students enrolling in schools in the District, Alexandria City, Arlington and Montgomery Counties now have the option to mark their gender as ‘X’ meaning nonbinary or unspecified. That’s in addition to male or female gender categories.” [WAMU]
Traffic Delays ACFD Response to I-395 Crash — “The I-395 incident happened shortly after 1 p.m. near the Duke Street overpass. Blunt said a crash left a woman trapped inside her car, but because of bumper-to-bumper traffic and other vehicles not moving out of the way, it took crews 24 minutes to respond when it would’ve taken them just eight minutes otherwise.” [Fox 5]
Pedestrian Tunnel Closure Date Set — “The 23rd Street tunnel is scheduled to close permanently on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The Virginia Department of Transportation will mobilize its contractor to begin deconstruction of the tunnel’s above-ground structures.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Nonprofit’s Student Program Deemed Success — “AHC Inc.’s college- and career-readiness program had a 100-percent high-school-graduation rate for participating students this year. A total of 24 students living in AHC’s local apartment communities participated in the non-profit housing provider’s readiness program.” [InsideNova]
Kiwanis Sell Lots of NJ Blueberries — “Those who purchased blueberries from the Kiwanis Club of Arlington earlier in the summer weren’t alone. Nearly 10,000 pounds of New Jersey berries were sold in the fund-raiser, netting nearly $10,000 that will be used to support grants aimed at serving children.” [InsideNova]
Storm Last Week Cast a Shadow — “A storm on the western horizon is casting a shadow on a storm on the eastern horizon. It doesn’t happen often. These are photos from last Wednesday.” [Twitter]
Nearby: Scooters Face Opposition in Alexandria — “Why scooters have drawn so much ire is among the most enduring mysteries of Alexandria ‘historic character’ activism. Alexandria’s history is replete with lots of vile historic character, like being a major center in the trade of enslaved people.” [Washingtonian]
Pence Visits Arlington, Again — Vice President Mike Pence again visited Arlington, this time the southern half of the county. The one-time Arlington resident gave a speech at an event for the “Alliance Defending Freedom” at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City hotel. As with his visit to Clarendon last week, the veep arrived via motorcade, accompanied by a sizable security detail. [White House, Twitter]
Arlington Company Facing Lawsuit — Employees of Arlington-based Evolent Health “have asserted in class-action lawsuits that the health care consulting company… has failed to pay them overtime for periods in which they worked more than 40 hours a week.” The company denied the allegations in court filings. [Insider Louisville]
Trans Events Coming to Crystal City — “An opening reception for people planning to participate in the [National Transgender Visibility March] will be held Thursday, Sept. 26, to be followed by a Friday, Sept. 27, Torch Award Ceremony in which prominent transgender and gender non-conforming leaders and activists will be honored. Both events will take place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.” [Washington Blade]
Nearby: Serious Crash on Route 50 — Westbound Arlington Blvd was closed near the Arlington border Tuesday afternoon for a serious motorcycle crash and a subsequent Fairfax County Police investigation. The crash happened near the intersection of Arlington Blvd and Olin Drive in Falls Church. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
(Updated on 07/22/19) Office Vacancy Rate Dropping — “The commercial vacancy rate in the County continues to improve. The vacancy rate as of the second quarter of 2019 stands at 16.6%, down nearly 5% from its historic high of 21% in 2015. Arlington Economic Development also announced it successfully closed 26 deals in FY 2019, representing 7.2 million square feet of office space and 43,000 jobs.” [Arlington County]
County Adopts New Bathroom Policy — “The Arlington County government has adopted what amounts to a […] policy for government-building restrooms and locker rooms. The policy, outlined to County Board members on July 16, will formally allow any individual to use a male or female restroom ‘that corresponds with gender identity or expression,’ county staff said.” [InsideNova]
Human Remains Found Near GW Parkway — Human remains, in a skull, have reportedly been found near the GW Parkway and Reagan National Airport, in the same area where a D.C. cadaver dog was hurt earlier this week, prompting a medevac flight. The dog is now recovering from serious injuries. U.S. Park Police are investigating the source of the remains. [Fox 5, Washington Post, WTOP]
New Provost, Plans for Marymount — “Marymount is proud to welcome the university’s new Provost, Hesham El-Rewini, Ph.D., P.E., who officially begins his duties on campus this week… ‘We have bold plans for the future of Marymount as we strive to become an elite Catholic institution that is nationally recognized for innovation,’ said Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University.” [Marymount University]
GoFundMe for Westover Residents — A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to benefit residents of Westover whose homes were damaged by flash flooding last week. So far more than $8,000 has been raised. [GoFundMe]
Big Crane Assisting With DCA Project — “A 250 ft. crane is being used to lift and put steel into place for a new 14-gate concourse that will replace Gate 35X” at Reagan National Airport. [Twitter]
Pentagon City Apartment Sold for Big Bucks — “Dweck Properties Inc. has picked up another multifamily property in Pentagon City, not far from where Amazon.com Inc. is settling into its second home. A Dweck affiliate paid $117 million July 9 for the Park at Pentagon Row, a 299-unit apartment building at 801 15th St. S.” [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Police Operation in Ballston — Arlington County Police say they arrested a wanted individual in Ballston Wednesday evening, in front of the DARPA building on N. Randolph Street. Officers used a “diversionary device” — witnesses described it as a flashbang grenade — during the operation, a police spokeswoman told ARLnow. “One suspect was taken into custody without incident,” ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said. Additional details were not immediately available. [Twitter]
‘Perfect Friday Night Date in Rosslyn’ — “A round of miniature golf is one of summer’s pleasures, whether putt-putting past pirate statues at a course by the beach or playing in a regional park closer to home. It works equally well as part of a date night or a group outing with friends. And it’s definitely not the kind of thing you’d expect to find popping up in the plaza outside a Rosslyn office building.” [Washington Post]
Beer Hall Nears Opening in Ballston — The opening of Bronson Bier Hall in Ballston, the successor to A-Town Bar and Grill, is about a month away. Most of the major interior construction appears to have been completed. [Instagram]
Amazon Hosts LGBT Reception — “A special reception [was] hosted by Amazon at a location in the heart of its massive planned expansion was held at Freddie’s Beach [Bar in Crystal City] to greet the area’s LGBT community.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Subsidies for Late Night Commuters — “The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has kicked off an effort to support late-night workers who travel when transit service is not available. Since July 1, qualified workers – such as those in the hospitality or health-care industries – have been eligible to receive a $3 subsidy toward travel on Lyft for trips taken between their home and workplace between midnight and 4 a.m.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Community Foundation Awards Scholarships — “The Arlington Community Foundation awarded new college scholarships totaling more than $540,000 to 72 students who will attend college next year. An additional 105 scholarships totaling $281,000 were renewed for returning college students, for a total of 177 recipients.” [Press Release]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Overturned Vehicle on GW Parkway — “The northbound George Washington Parkway was closed [past Key Bridge] during Tuesday morning’s rush hour after a vehicle overturned, authorities said… The southbound side of the parkway was also affected.” [Washington Post]
Transgender Policy Discussion at School Board Meeting — “Students, parents and advocates packed the [Arlington school] board meeting to loudly back [a transgender non-discrimination] plan, waving miniature LGBT and transgender pride flags to signal agreement with the nearly three dozen speakers who proclaimed support… Supporters on Tuesday vastly outnumbered those who turned out to protest the plans.” [Washington Post]
Good Samaritan Murder Trial — “The Good Samaritan who intervened to try to stop a sexual assault in Arlington last fall was beaten so badly it was impossible to tell what killed him, a medical examiner testified Monday.” [Washington Post]
Feds Giving Grant to DCA — “Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International both will see millions in funding from the FAA for improvements. DCA is slated to get $4,921,500 in funding.” [WUSA 9, Press Release]
ACFD Chief Battalion Honored — “Chief Wesley was recognized at the event for being the #first #AfricanAmericanWoman Battalion Chief not only in @ArlingtonVA but also the entire Northern Virginia region.” [Twitter]
Amazon HQ2 Jobs Update — There are currently 63 positions listed on Amazon’s HQ2 jobs page, many of them technical. Recently listed job titles include “Region Build Technical Program Manager,” “Full Stack Software Development Engineer” and “Systems Development Manager, Cloud Computing Operations.” [Amazon]
Arlington officials are flying rainbow flags and local bars are hosting drag events to kick-off this month’s Pride celebrations.
During the month of June, residents will spot the multi-hued flags hung at county’s government offices in Courthouse, as well as outside the county’s Justice Center, Arlington Central Library, the Department of Human Services office near Penrose, and the Trades Center, among other places.
Rainbow flags will also be flying all month at the County Justice Center, Central Library, Trades Center, Walter Reed Community Center, Barcroft, Fairlington Community Center, Department of Human Services, and other @ArlingtonVALib branches! #PrideMonth
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) May 31, 2019
Although some of the biggest Pride events are happening this weekend in D.C. and Centreville, there are plenty of smaller Pride events in Arlington on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that started it all.
Arlington staple and Northern Virginia’s only gay bar Freddie’s Beach Bar is continuing to host nightly karaoke events, as well as free drag bingo nights every Wednesday and drag shows every Saturday this month, featuring a rotating cast of queens for a $5 cover.
Next Monday, June 10, the Columbia Pike Branch Library is hosting a Pride Paint Night.
Oz Restaurant & Bar in Clarendon will also host a Pride Karaoke night on June 13 from 8-11 p.m., featuring $7 cocktails and $5 wine and rail drinks.
At the end of the month, Barnes & Noble in Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd) is organizing a free reading event for children with three books featuring LGBT characters on Saturday, June 29 at 11 a.m.
Photo via EricaJoy/Flickr
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools is seeking public input on a new plan officials hope will help protect transgender students from discrimination.
The Policy Implementation Procedure (PIP) released yesterday (Tuesday) contains several ways the county’s public school system plans to fulfill a 2015 policy promising protections for transgender and non-binary student from harassments, and to ensure these students had the same educational opportunities as their peers.
The three-page document outlines several ways schools can accomplish this, including:
- Converting some single stall bathrooms into gender neutral bathrooms, and allowing students to use bathrooms that are consistent with their identity
- Assigning students to rooms during overnight trips that match their gender identity, and allowing any student who is “uncomfortable sharing” a sleep area, or shower or bathroom, to access a “designated safe, non-stigmatizing alternative”
- Requiring teachers to refer to students by their preferred names and pronouns
- Directing staff to not share information about a student’s gender identity and gender transition “unless legally required to do so,” or unless the student gives permission to share
In an email shared with parents, APS noted that the PIP was developed with input from the National School Boards Association’s Transgender Students in Schools Guide. Residents can submit feedback on the plan via an online survey or by emailing [email protected].
“In keeping with the APS vision and core values, this PIP is being developed to ensure that all students feel accepted and safe in inclusive school environments, including our transgender and gender non-conforming youth,” Dr. Tara Nattrass, assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning, said in a statement to ARLnow.
Dr. Julie Alexandrin, Arlington Gay Lesbian Alliance board member and education psychology expert, praised the plan for its thoroughness and inclusive definitions of gender. However, she said, “the real question will be the implementation and how people are held accountable to it — not just faculty and staff but also students.”
When it comes to sports, the PIP proposes that students be able to “participate in any co-curricular or extra-curricular activity consistent with their gender identity” but notes that “athletic participation regulated by the Virginia High School League (VHSL) and the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association (VASRA) must be in compliance with rules outlined by that organization.”
“That shows us where our next battle is,” said Alexandrin. She added that it’s important the county follow the state rules in order not to disqualify current athletes in sports like crew, which recent funding battles revealed has a strong fan base.
“There’s only so much the school system can do without hurting the students,” she said.
The plan generated controversy among some who opposed special anti-discrimination policies based on gender identity. Several opponents aired frustrations in blog posts, and two criticized the School Board during an April 11 meeting for not sharing more information during the PIP drafting process.
One public speaker at the April meeting said the PIP features a “presumption of gender fluidity and a heavy emphasis on supporting and education about gender transition” and could therefore be harmful to “gender dysphoric children.”
A parent who testified at hearing later that month said she sympathized with parents’ concern over how policy changes might impact their children, but added “when your fear marginalizes our children, you leave them to be bullied or worse.” She noted that her transgender son said he’s “tired of being the rope in this tug-of-war.”
“I think that’s why you have to talk about respect and what respect means,” said Alexandrin, who identifies as lesbian. “You can disagree with gay marriage but treat me with respect as a person. We can still have civil conversation about it, and we can still treat each other with respect. And that’s what we need to teach youth.”
“This is a sensitive topic for many, and it is a more prominent area of focus for PreK-12 education than it was at that time,” said Nattrass, when asked why the plan picked up controversy after the original non-discrimination policy passed with little fanfare four years ago.
“Recognizing the sensitivities, APS staff have taken a considerable amount of time and care to gather input from many perspectives, including APS staff and advisory groups, as well as several outside sources, including the National School Board Association’s guide on policies for transgender students in schools,” Nattrass said.