A Virginia school board member is suing her fellow board members after she was censured for a Facebook post about the school district’s transgender bathroom practices.
Angela Allen, vice chairwoman of the Goochland County School Board in the Richmond area, filed a lawsuit Monday against her school board colleagues in their personal capacities, accusing them of defamation and forming a civil conspiracy against her.
The controversy started back in January when Allen posted on Facebook about what she said were the school district’s practices around trans-identifying students and bathroom use.
“As a Goochland School Board member, effectively representing your interests is my duty. This week I learned that [Goochland County Public Schools] students are allowed to use restrooms different from their biological sex. Is this our community’s expectation?” Allen posted on the social media platform on January 26.
Allen’s Facebook post garnered attention within the community, and people started showing up at school board meetings to express their “dismay and disapproval” of the Goochland County school district allegedly letting students use the bathroom of the opposite sex, according to the lawsuit.
Then at a May school board meeting, the four other board members expressed their public disapproval of Allen and officially censured her, the first censure in Goochland School Board history, according to the lawsuit.
The censure resolution accused Allen of violating the school board’s ethics code, federal law, and the Constitution with her Facebook post, which it called “inflammatory” and a “distorted characterization” of the district’s policies.
Allen is also “accountable for disrupting the integrity of the Board, encouraging violation of the law and blemishing the reputation of the board,” the censure resolution said.
The lawsuit argues the Facebook post was “completely neutral.” The censure resolution made “false statements of fact about the character and reputation” of Allen, the lawsuit alleges.
The conservative law firm, the Founding Freedoms Law Center, represents Allen.
“The defendants made knowingly false statements against Ms. Allen to disparage her reputation all because she exposed a policy they apparently wanted to remain hidden from their constituents,” Allen’s attorney Josh Hetzler told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“These board members must be held accountable for wrongfully attacking Ms. Allen and for harming her reputation,” Hetzler said.
“For me, this case is primarily about my reputation for integrity and about accountability for school board members who think that they can unfairly punish a fellow board member simply because I informed the citizens of what the schools were actually doing and then asked them what they thought about it,” Allen said.
“In other words, they punished me for doing exactly what I was elected to do,” she added. “Ultimately, if they can get away with this without consequences, then this can happen to any school board member in any district, so I feel I have a responsibility to stand up to it.”
The lawsuit is requesting half a million dollars in compensatory damages plus $350,000 in punitive damages from the other board members.
School policies dealing with transgender bathroom use have become a hot-button issue for parents across the country in the last few years. Many have disapproved of policies allowing biological males to use the same bathrooms and locker rooms as girls.