- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the Hanover County Schools for engaging a group that promotes religious freedom to provide legal advice on the school system’s transgender policy.

The ACLU-VA has adopted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group designation for the religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is slated to review the Hanover School District’s policy for transgendered students.

The ACLU-VA has filed an information request, seeking all communications between school officials, school board members and the ADF

The SPLC earlier this month released its annual list of so-called hate groups, and ADF remains on the list after first receiving the designation in 2016.

The SPLC writes that the ADF “works to dehumanize LGBTQ+ people and restrict their rights for being who they are,” and has helped to pass religious-exemption laws “that lead to discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.” The group has also filed lawsuits to block transgendered students from accessing bathrooms opposite their biological sex, and to block transgendered women from participating on women’s sports teams.

“The organization’s disturbing and erroneous positions clearly should disqualify ADF from providing legal advice to the Hanover County School Board, a taxpayer-funded public agency, on a matter as sensitive as providing safe, discrimination-free schools for all students, including transgender students,” ACLU-VA officials said in a statement.

The ACLU-VA is suing the school district for failing to implement new rules allowing transgendered students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that reflect their gender identity.

The ADF, like other organizations targeted by the SPLC, denies it is a hate group. The organization calls the SPLC a far-left activist organization that only targets the right.

“While ADF takes legal and policy positions that are informed by a biblically-based understanding of marriage, human sexuality, and the sanctity of life, we respect the human dignity of those with whom we disagree and win legal cases that also protect their freedom to express and advocate for their beliefs,” ADF officials said.  

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

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