Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

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]

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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.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVA/status/1134457541684072448?s=20

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.

Italian eatery Pinzimini in Ballston will host its first LGBT happy hour this Friday at 6:30 p.m. The event is free but attendees are encouraged to RSVP online.

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

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(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.

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Morning Notes

Kaine Event at Federico’sUpdated at 8:55 a.m. — “On Monday, May 13, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will hold a roundtable in Arlington with fair housing advocates to discuss the work ahead to ensure equal access to housing for all Americans and address discrimination that LGBTQ Americans continue to face as they search for homes.” The event is now being held at 9 a.m. at Federico’s Ristorante Italiano (519 23rd Street S.) in Crystal City, per an updated media advisory.

Amazon Hiring for Alexa Job in Arlington — Among other open job positions for Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington, the company is now hiring a “Principal Product Manager” for its Alexa Experience team. [Amazon]

Puppy Recovering from Pike Crash — “Earlier this week Yoda ran into oncoming traffic after escaping his leash. I ran after him in attempt to save him, which resulted in both of us getting hit by a car. I am okay but Yoda was not so lucky. He has two major fractures in his back leg which lead him into surgery. He is resting but having a difficult time.” [GoFundMe]

Satisfaction with Metro Rebounds — “Metro’s reputation in the region has improved dramatically in the past two years and has almost reached the positive levels it enjoyed before a fatal smoke incident in 2015, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll… A 68 percent majority of Washington-area residents rate Metrorail positively, up from 42 percent in 2017. In 2013, 71 percent had positive ratings of the subway system.” [Washington Post]

Post Endorses Tafti — The Washington Post has endorsed challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti over incumbent Theo Stamos in the Democratic Commonwealth’s Attorney primary. [Washington Post]

SoberRide Record for Cinco de Mayo — “Nearly 800 (792) persons in the Washington-metropolitan area used the free safe ride service, SoberRide, this Cinco de Mayo as opposed to possibly driving home drunk.” [WRAP]

Flickr pool photos by John Sonderman and GM and MB

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Morning Notes

Family of Detained Arlington Man Seeks Answers — “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met privately with the families of Americans detained abroad Tuesday and urged them not to abandon hope. The State Department declined to share the names of those present but they included… the daughter of Majd Kamalmaz, a 61-year-old psychotherapist from Arlington, Virginia, who has been missing in Syria since 2017.” [NBC News]

Jury Duty Changes — “The verdict is in, and at least from the standpoint of Arlington officials, a two-year-long revamp of how local jurors are selected appears to be a success. ‘We have received positive feedback,’ said Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson.” [InsideNova]

Arlington is Near Top for Dog Owners — Arlington has ranked No. 14 among the most dog-friendly places in the U.S. in 2019, according to pet website Rover. The most popular breed in Arlington: mutts. [Zebra]

Va. to Implement Conversion Therapy Ban — Virginia’s Board of Psychology is a month away from potentially implementing a ban on conversion therapy on minors by licensed psychologists. “This has been a long, arduous process but make no mistake, Virginia is going to ban this ineffective, harmful practice on children,” Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D) said via Twitter. “This is the first of many steps toward protecting Virginia’s children.” [Virginia Mercury, Twitter]

Nearby: Woman Runs All of Alexandria’s Streets — “For the last 19 weeks, Stephanie Lasure has been running every street in the City of Alexandria. She is weaving her way through every nook and cranny — down every block in Old Town, around every cul-de-sac in Seminary Hill and up every ascent in Rosemont.” [RunWashington]

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(Updated 3/28/19) Drag shows in Arlington are now taking their first high-heeled step outside the gay bar scene, but members of the scene say it hasn’t lost its roots.

For decades now, the only way to catch a drag show in Arlington, or Northern Virginia, was to head to Crystal City and line up at Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd St S.)

But earlier this month, one bar in Clarendon began offering drag bingo nights as gay business leaders say growing demand for the glittery entertainment is opening up new doors for drag queens.

Ten years ago, RuPaul’s Drag Race set out to find, “America’s next drag superstar” but in doing so the reality competition show also launched drag onto a mainstream stage for the first time. The show has since garnered millions of fans online, launched modeling careers for contestants, and introduced straight viewers to historically gay slang like “kiki.”

And As RuPaul’s moved from a niche gay television network to VH1, so too did drag shows begin moving from the gay bars to the straight pubs.

“Our drag shows have been consistently popular for all these years,” said Freddie’s owner Freddie Lutz. “But I have noticed that with the RuPaul’s Drag Race coming on the scene that a lot of drag shows have been popping up all over the place — even in straight bars.”

“RuPaul has kind of made it more mainstream,” agreed long-time local drag queen Destiny B. Childs, who managed Freddies’ weekend drag shows for the last 15 years, adding that until recently not many straight bars hosted drag.

Arlington is now joining D.C. and other local jurisdictions in having drag events at straight bars. The mainstream move was kickstarted by the Board Room in Clarendon (925 N. Garfield Street), whose owner Mark Handwerger said he first had the idea to bring the glitz and glam of drag to his establishments after a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I went to a drag brunch out in Vegas and we ended up having to go to the 11 o’clock one because the 9 o’clock was sold out and the 3 o’clock was sold out,” he said of his trip with friends. “So it was like we came back thinking, ‘This could be a great fit’.”

Handwerger said to him incorporating drag events into the Board Room was no different than the modifications he’s made to his other bars like Buffalo Billiards as people’s taste changes.

“We try to look for trends and give people want they want,” he said.

But for the LGBT community, drag shows have been a fixture from the beginning. Over the decades, drag queens have donned make-up and wigs to start the Stonewall Riots and fundraise for AIDS research during the height of the epidemic.

Drag queens’ gender-bending performances are an integral part of the culture and history of queer and trans communities, stories some people worry could get lost in the translation to pop culture.

But Arlington is special, Childs and Lutz say, because traditionally Freddies’ encouraged mingling between the gay population and their straight, cis allies. Lutz said this is because when he bought the bar “Foxhole” and turned it into “Freddie’s” he never closed for renovations or kicked the regular bar clientele out.

“I just came in and started painting everything purple,” said Lutz. “We just had gay people start coming in and mixing with the dart-throwers. That was actually some of the most magical times.”

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(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools is developing a framework for a policy passed years ago aiming to protect transgender students from discrimination.

APS is trying to figure out how it could best achieve a 2015 policy aimed at protecting transgender and non-binary students from discrimination and bullying.

The Policy Implementation Procedure (PIP) is slated for revisions until June, per a timeline posted by APS.

“Staff has been reviewing a variety of resources to develop a working draft and outline of the procedures, but the working group has not yet finalized the draft,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. He added that when the draft is ready it “will be shared with our Advisory Committees and others to gather feedback” but that at the moment no public input events were planned.

The PIP comes a year after Superintendent Patrick Murphy announced in a memo for the previous school year that gender identity had been added to the school system’s anti-bullying policy, and that transgender students will be allowed to use their bathroom that corresponds with their self-identified gender.

It’s popular on a Facebook group for APS parents where dozens of members expressed support for the PIP in discussions on the page, and 243 voted to favor of it in an informal poll.

One anonymous group calling themselves the “Arlington Parents Coalition,” however, called the PIP “radical” and said the coalition had “concerns” about it in a blog post.

When contacted by ARLnow via a form on their website — which appears to have been created in March and has only posted about the PIP development — a member declined to identify themselves or others in the group.

The 2015 policy the PIP hopes to support was unanimously approved by the School Board in 2015. Policy J-2, as it’s called, requires APS provide, “educational opportunities and learning environments that are free of discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of… gender identity or expression.”

“No student, on these bases, shall be denied access to educational or extracurricular programs, activities, services, or benefits, or be limited in the exercise of any right, privilege or advantage,” the policy says. Depending on the framework adopted, the PIP could have implications for bathrooms and other school facilities, sports teams, and school procedures.

The School Board Chair at the time, Emma Violand-Sánchez, said she was “very proud” of the policy.

Bellavia said the PIP has not been changed by the recent backlash from right-wing websites after transgender activist Sarah McBride read a book about trans kids, I Am Jazz, To Ashlawn students earlier this month.

Research from William Institute of UCLA’s School of Law released this month found a correlation between the presence of anti-bullying laws for sexual orientation in a state and fewer suicide attempts by youth. LGBT+ youth have historically reported high rates of bullying in studies, with one in three transgender high school students surveyed last year saying they attempted suicide and a third saying they felt unsafe in school.

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Morning Notes

New Hotel for DCA? — “A hotel might be in the works for Reagan National Airport, according to Jack Potter, CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority… A spokeswoman for MWAA said they are still in the ideas phase and nothing is concrete.” [Washington Business Journal]

Parents Fight Proposed Key Changes — “Parents are battling for the school’s future after Arlington Public Schools surprised them with a plan to relocate Key [Elementary], an announcement that animated larger questions about race, class and the purpose of bilingual education.” [Washington Post]

APS Friday Closure Questioned — “Most schools in the DC region decided to stay open despite the wintry mix Friday morning, but Arlington County Public Schools decided to close leaving parents in disbelief.” [WJLA]

Kindergarteners Learn About Transgender — “Dozens of kindergarten students sat cross-legged in his classroom at Ashlawn Elementary School in Arlington, listening as an advocate for transgender rights paged through a children’s picture book about a transgender girl,” as part of an event with the National Education Association and the Human Rights Campaign. [Washington Post]

Chamber Partners with APS — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce a partnership with Arlington Public Schools Career Center for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program. The Chamber is in its fifth year of offering the YEA! Program, but this is its first class of students for the program as part of their Arlington Public Schools learning.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Dog With Dementia Falls into Storm Drain — “A small dog with dementia is missing after falling into a storm drain in Arlington, Virginia. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington tweeted out an alert Thursday and said the cute pup disappeared after falling into the sewer about 8 p.m.” [NBC Washington, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

ACPD Helps With Bush Funeral — Arlington County Police Department motor officers “had the honor of assisting with escorts” for the George H.W. Bush funeral yesterday. [Twitter]

Arlington County Named LGBTQ ‘All-Star’ — “For the third year in a row, Arlington has received national recognition for its protections of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community members. The County scored 92 out of 100 on the Municipal Equality Index (MEI)… because it scored at least an 85 despite being in a state without supportive state-level LGBTQ protections, the County also earned ‘all-star’ recognition.” [Arlington County]

Bikeshare Station Coming to Gravelly Point — A Capital Bikeshare station was being installed along the Mt. Vernon Trail at Gravelly Point Park yesterday. [Twitter]

County, Volunteers Planting Trees — “This fall alone, the Tree Stewards has planted about 300 trees. The group planned on planting 900, but the ice and snow in early November steered it a little off track. Arlington County contractors picked up the rest of the job.” [WDVM]

Flickr pool by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

MCM This Weekend — The Marine Corps Marathon is taking place Sunday morning, shutting down a bunch of streets around Arlington. Many of the street closures will be centered around Crystal City, a favorite gathering spot for spectators who root on runners on the final leg of the race, and Rosslyn, which hosts the starting miles of the race and its Finish Festival.

Last Days of Clarendon Grill — Long-time local nightlife spot Clarendon Grill is closing and hosting its final musical performances this weekend. [Twitter]

Candidates Weigh in on LGBT Center — “Wonderful in theory, but perhaps impractical in the current economic environment. That’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the response of the two Arlington County Board candidates to a calls for creation of a local community center specifically geared toward the county’s LGBT community.” [InsideNova]

Big Raise for Arlington Startup — Courthouse-based WireWheel, a data privacy compliance SaaS company, has closed a $10 million Series A round. Total funding raised to date is $13 million. [WireWheel]

Storm Approaches — “Here comes our nor’easter. Rain starts today and it’ll last into early tomorrow. It may amount to nearly two inches in some spots. Our weather turns windy tonight and perhaps much of tomorrow, when we could see some late-day clearing. Luckily for Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon, shower chances are low.” [Washington Post]

Local GOP Getting Jump on Recruitment — “In recent years, the [GOP] has not only not been competitive in Arlington races, but at the local level often fails to field candidates at all. Presswood, who has been party chairman for almost three years, has worked hard to try and reverse that trend.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy John Broehm

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Morning Notes

Chess Growing in Popularity at Wakefield HS — A hot new trend with students at Wakefield High School: chess. The school offers chess boards for students and teachers to use during their lunch periods. Five or six students were regular players at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year the number of students playing on a weekly basis grew to around 200, including standout varsity athletes like Amari Cooper and Ben Horsford. [InsideNova]

Religious Protesters Picket Freddie’s — A pair of religious protesters held signs and chanted anti-gay slogans outside of Crystal City LGBTQ watering hole Freddie’s Beach Bar over the weekend. Despite their message of intolerance, owner Freddie Lutz invited the two in to have a dialogue about their beliefs and why Lutz is proud of his bar and customers. [Washington Blade]

Ballston Mall Owner to Be Sold — The Cleveland-based owner of the revamped Ballston Quarter mall is being sold to a Toronto-based management company, Brookfield Asset Management, for a reported $11.4 billion. [Washington Business Journal]

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