Loudoun County, Virginia, has been catapulted by media attention to the highest level of recognition in the latest iteration of culture conflagrations. The county has been the focus of both critical race theory clashes and transgender issues. This latter battlefront involved accusations of sexual abuse, school mishandling of such incidents, and the anguish of parents.
The relationships of the conflicts are not mere threads but hawser-like tows drawing deep emotional vessels across the bows of one another. The volume of klaxon horn blasts make it almost impossible for any individual to remain impartial or capable of sorting facts from within the cacophony.
It is at times like these that journalists can pierce a bollix of conflicting material to present clarification of the impact of an event. It appeared to VoxFairfax that an OpEd by Michelle Goldberg (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/28/opinion/loudoun-county-trans.html), bridged the void of rationality in regard to a sexual abuse incident occurring in May in a bathroom of a Loudoun high school. The column may not answer to the satisfaction of all every residual question involving school and police procedures. Here, for what it is worth, are the words of the columnist seeking to establish a credible context for the incident:
But this week, during a juvenile court hearing, a fuller picture of … (the victim’s) … ordeal emerged. She suffered something atrocious. It had nothing at all to do, however, with trans bathroom policies. Instead, like many women and girls, she was a victim of relationship abuse.
(The victim) testified that she’d previously had two consensual sexual encounters with her attacker in the school bathroom. On the day of her assault, they’d agreed to meet up again. According to the prosecutor, ‘The evidence was that the girl chose that bathroom, but her intent was to talk to him, not to engage in sexual relations. . . . The boy, however, expected sex and refused to accept the girl’s refusal. . . . ‘He flipped me over, I was on the ground and couldn’t move and he sexually assaulted me.’
This iteration of the incident, as noted, does not answer all questions. Goldberg, however, reported on another relative fact that tends to mitigate against the fire and brimstone engulfing the school board. While it is a fact that the boy wore a skirt, that was not a condition to entering the female bathroom because the assault incident occurred more than two months before the school board had approved a trans-inclusive bathroom policy. Thus, while a question may linger as to the wisdom of such inclusiveness with respect to bathroom access, it is clear that the policy did not contribute to the sexual abuse.
Converting incidents such as this into a political and cultural clash may not be so inevitable. We just haven’t figured out a way to channel them into constructive outcomes.
One almost wishes for every event in daily life to be videotaped so as to prevent the upheaval occasioned by this incident. But, then, we would have introduced yet further intrusion into privacy. Blame and finger-pointing are natural and inevitable. Converting incidents such as this into a political and cultural clash may not be so inevitable. We just haven’t figured out a way to channel them into constructive outcomes.
Nonetheless, thanks are in order to Ms. Goldberg for her investigation and assessment of a highly charged event that has engulfed parents, school boards, an election, and the public at large. There may yet be more to learn and uncover but her calm review helps to dial down the intensity to permit a more reasonable platform for civic dialogue.