FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—America First Legal is demanding answers after the Justice Department under President Joe Biden intervened in a Virginia school district’s adoption of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s policies that center parental rights in transgender issues.
“The Department of Justice seems to suggest that protecting the constitutional rights of parents and students will lead to ‘hate crimes,’” Ian Prior, senior adviser at America First Legal, told The Daily Signal in a written statement Monday. “Once again, we are witnessing the top law enforcement organization in the land come unglued from reality and unmoored from its core functions, all in the name of opposing anyone that doesn’t approve of its state-approved message.”
America First Legal filed a Freedom of Information Act request Monday demanding Justice Department records related to Virginia’s Roanoke County Public Schools.
On July 27, the Roanoke County School Board discussed the Virginia Department of Education’s model policies on transgender issues, finalized July 18 under Youngkin, a Republican. The state policies require schools to refer to each student by his or her legal name and sex, unless a parent submits a legal document substantiating a change in either. The policies also require schools to use sex, rather than gender identity, as the benchmark for bathrooms, intimate spaces, and sports reserved for boys or girls.
Pro-transgender activists reportedly disrupted the school board meeting. Police arrested two vocal protesters who refused to leave and repeatedly yelled, “Protect trans lives” during the meeting.
Although local law enforcement and the school board were addressing the disruption, Hannah Levine, a staffer at the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, sent a July 31 email offering “conflict resolution services.”
Her agency in the Justice Department “serves as ‘America’s Peacemaker,’ preventing and responding to community tensions and hate crimes, bias, bullying, and discrimination committed on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and disability,” Levine wrote in the email, which The Daily Wire first reported.
“CRS is aware of ongoing community tensions in Roanoke County following the release of the new model policies for transgender students,” Levine said in the email to the Roanoke County school system. “I’d like to connect to see if we might be able to offer support and services as you work to manage conflict in the community related to this.”
America First Legal contends that the email from Levine and the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service is suspicious.
“It is unclear why CRS would inject itself into an issue that is properly one for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Roanoke County Public Schools,” reads America First Legal’s request to the Justice Department for related records. “What is clear, however, is that CRS has positioned itself not as a neutral arbitrator of issues related to transgenders but as a government entity that is fully behind the Biden administration’s radical transgender agenda.”
The Community Relations Service says it trains law enforcement on “engaging and building relationships with transgender communities.” The agency’s home page features the White House’s “fact sheet” on actions “to protect LGBTQI+ Communities.”
America First Legal also noted the Biden Justice Department’s record of opposing parental rights in education.
In October 2021, the DOJ issued a memo asking the FBI and U.S. attorneys to investigate parents who spoke out at school board meetings. The DOJ memo followed a letter from the National School Boards Association comparing parents who protest school district policies to domestic terrorists and encouraging Biden to use the Patriot Act against those parents. Documents revealed later that the White House had worked with the school boards association to draft the letter.
The Justice Department ultimately rescinded the memo and the National School Boards Association apologized for the letter. However, the Biden White House has worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a far-left organization that recently put parental rights organizations on a “hate map” with KKK chapters. America First Legal has demanded DOJ documents citing the SPLC.
Pointing to this history and Levine’s email, America First Legal demanded DOJ documents related to Roanoke County Public Schools and Youngkin’s model state policies.
“Attorney General Merrick Garland doesn’t appear to have learned any lessons after his 2021 memo directing U.S. attorneys and the FBI to investigate parents speaking at school board meetings,” America First Legal’s Prior said in a written statement on the request. “Now, the Department of Justice is seeking to intervene in another purely state and local matter, namely the Roanoke County School Board’s adoption of the Virginia Department of Education’s model policies that prohibit schools from forcing students, parents, and teachers to sacrifice their constitutional rights in the name of transgender ideology.”
“America First Legal will continue to serve as a watchdog over the Department of Justice’s continued attempts to interfere with parental rights on local issues,” Prior added.
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