Fox News chyron: Loudoun Co. school board meeting erupts in chaos

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The right is attacking trans people as part of its “critical race theory” political tactic

A county school board meeting exploded into chaos as members discussed trans inclusion and how to teach about race

Right-wing media figures on Fox News have been lumping together their obsessions with “critical race theory” and trans people, particularly children, as they seek to weaponize both into political cudgels against Democrats in advance of midterm elections -- while advancing dangerous laws that harm teachers and students. 

GOP operatives and think tanks have turned “critical race theory,” an academic field examining systemic racism and its impacts on society, into a manufactured controversy as part of a strategy -- bolstered by months of obsessive right-wing media coverage -- to sensationalize local debates over how to teach about race in schools. Similarly, right-wing media in recent months has increasingly targeted transgender people, particularly trans athletes, and health care for trans youth. The right has sought to make both issues into political and cultural wedge issues in advance of upcoming elections -- all while pushing a wave of legislation across the country discriminating against trans people or preventing teachers from freely discussing race in the classroom.

Those right-wing attacks on trans youth and “critical race theory” culminated on June 22 in a school board meeting that ended in chaos in Loudoun County, Virginia. Members of the public held up signs and disrupted the board, with at least one man arrested and another person injured. The meeting was regarding “a proposed policy on the treatment of transgender students — as well as how schools should teach about race.” According to NBC Washington: “The proposed policy would affect staff use of transgender students’ names and pronouns; transgender students’ access to sports, restrooms and locker rooms; and training for school mental health professionals.” 

The school district had also commissioned a 2019 report as part of efforts to create more equity for students of color, including recommendations asking the schools to condemn “white supremacy, hate speech, hate crimes, and other racially motivated acts of violence.” The school district superintendent has noted that critical race theory is not taught in the school district.

A violent escalation involving both trans issues and race is no surprise; Fox News has been conflating the topics in its coverage for months.

  • Fox News has simultaneously targeted “critical race theory” and trans issues as part of the “left’s dangerous ideology”

  • Since March, when Fox started ramping up its coverage of “critical race theory,” the network’s hosts and guests have often simultaneously brought up the topic alongside mentions and discussions of trans people, using both topics to portray the left as extreme. 

    Fox News figures regularly compared the two topics to each other, claiming that they are both “designed to divide” people, that transgender rights silence women while discussions about race silence white people, and that teaching about race or gender identity will lead to “dumber” kids and a weaker military.

    Conservative writer Douglas Murray said that “CRT, like a lot of the transgender ideology, is designed to divide” by calling people bigots if they object to them.

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    Citation From the June 23, 2021, edition of Fox & Friends

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): A heated scene in Loudoun County, Virginia, where hundreds of parents pushed back against the school board over their woke agenda.

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Yeah, we’ve been talking about this but also we’re seeing a lot of this. Author Douglas Murray is here to react. Douglas, what is your view of what is happening right now in America? One of the symptoms of the pandemic is parents saw what the kids were learning, and they’re reacting. 

    DOUGLAS MURRAY: That’s right. CRT, like a lot of the transgender ideology, is designed to divide. That's what it's meant to do. The transgender ideology stuff is, how dare you say that the big beefy guy can't enter the women's weight lifting competition and trounce all of the women? Who are you to say, you shouldn't do that, you bigot? And the CRT agenda is a version of the same thing. It says, why can’t we talk about problematizing whiteness? Who are you to object to that, you bigot? It’s meant to divide. And so parents are right to call this out. They are right to say that you cannot talk about, for instance, white children as if they are a problem any more than you should be able to talk about Black children as if they are a problem. The people pushing this stuff have been trying to divide America, and it’s absolutely right that American parents should take any opportunity they can to say, no, we will not allow you to do this. 

  • The Hill’s Joe Concha said that American students are behind other countries academically because U.S. schools “focus on race, and privilege, and sexual orientation, and transgender.”

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    Citation From the June 23, 2021, edition of Fox News' Outnumbered

    JOE CONCHA (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): The Loudoun County School Board is being called the wokest and worst school board in America by parents there, and for good reason. 

    Look, I'm a parent, and the No. 1 topic at barbecues -- and thank God we can go to barbecues again, and soccer games, and softball games this summer -- it’s what is going on in schools in terms of what we're teaching our kids and where the focus lies. Because while we focus on race, and privilege, and sexual orientation, and transgender, we're taking our eyes off the very things that prepare our children for adulthood. The U.S., all the money we spend and we allocate to the Department of Education, all the advanced resources that we have in this country -- we don’t even rank in the top 10 in science. We're 30th in math, Harris, 30th. And you want to know why U.S. companies turn to Asia and India when they want young adult workers instead of getting them from here from home? You have your answer: Because we're taking our eye off the ball. Those countries, those regions are preparing their kids for adulthood, and here, we're focused on all those other things, and parents finally are clearly fed up. 

  • Fox host Will Cain said that Loudoun County is the “Lexington and Concord” of the “cultural revolution” with its “transgender policies, critical race theory policies.”

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    Citation From the June 13, 2021, edition of Fox & Friends Sunday

    WILL CAIN (CO-HOST): Loudoun County, if what we're looking at right now is sort of a cultural revolution, and myself and some of my co-hosts have talked about that. If Loudoun -- if we are experiencing a cultural revolution, Loudoun County has become sort of the Lexington and Concord of this entire revolution. It seems like the flashpoint of everything, transgender policies, critical race theory policies, really active in confrontational school board meetings.

  • On Fox & Friends, Rep. Dan Crenshaw criticized the military for alleged “critical race theory training” and “gender neutral” language.

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    Citation From the June 11, 2021, edition of Fox & Friends

    REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Here’s what they often say, “We’re going to do diversity and inclusion training. Who could possibly be against that?” Well, they’re playing footsie with critical race theory when they do that. It's not inclusive to be telling people about their whiteness and to be explaining to white people how they have privilege. I mean, some of the feedback we got when we put this out -- so, we have a whistleblower page on my website, and when people fill that in, it goes to me and it goes to Sen. [Tom] Cotton. So that's where all of these examples came from that Sen. Cotton brought up, and there's things like white privilege walks -- so take two steps forward if you're white, step back if you're Black. Tell me how that's inclusive? Tell me how that doesn't create divisions within our military?

    CRENSHAW: The other reason that we dove into this wasn't just to look at critical race theory training perhaps being put on our troops. I mean, I was looking at this long ago when they took the SEAL ethos, and they made it gender neutral just out of nowhere just for some reason. We were letting transgender soldiers go on CNN and politicize their behavior there.

  • A parent on Fox & Friends said that gender neutral language and questioning “what could have been done differently at Thanksgiving” are “a way to shame children for their American heritage.”

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    Citation From the June 2, 2021, edition of Fox & Friends

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): A critical race theory creeps into classrooms across the country. One Rhode Island mom is taking matters into her own hands after she was refused answers to the teachings at her daughter's future kindergarten classroom. Nicole Solas filed suit over -- she filed, I’m sorry, over 160 public records requests. But now the South Kingstown School District is -- they’re considering suing her now. They’re going to meet today. 


    NICOLE SOLAS (PARENT): So, when I enrolled my daughter in school, I wanted to know if they were doing anything with gender theory or anti-racism. I called the principal and I was told that they don't refer to kids as boys and girls. They have a common practice of doing this. I was also told that they refrain from using gender terminology in general. In terms of anti-racism, I was told that kids in kindergarten are asked what could have been done differently at Thanksgiving. And this struck me as a way to shame children for their American heritage. … I got the curriculum, I didn’t see any evidence of gender theory or anti-racism in it but I knew that they were still teaching it somehow in schools. 

  • Right-wing pundit Candace Owens said conservatives should target education because “this pick your gender, the transgender that’s going on, and most importantly and most potently, telling children that they need to see race everywhere at the same time” will lead to “dumber kids” who “become servants to the government” and “end up on welfare.”

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    Citation From the May 26, 2021, edition of Fox News' The Ingraham Angle

    CANDACE OWENS (RIGHT-WING PUNDIT): We need to tell the truth: The left right now is segregationist. We need to start saying that over and over again. They are the party of segregation. That is what they are calling for. They are obsessed with race. They want your children to know that they are either oppressed or they are privileged. 

    And by the way, talk about people to appeal to. We live in a country that is largely biracial. Could you imagine what it's like for me, who has a biracial child, who is being told that your child is going to be literally taught in the school system that they are either half oppressed or half privileged? There's no space for these people. 

    I believe that you are correct, Laura, when you say that this is where we hit: education. We need to stop the conversation -- yes it's important, the lower tax argument, but it's not the argument that's hitting home when you talk about what's happening inside the school systems. Everybody cares about their children. They understand what's going on. This pick your gender, the transgender that's going on, and most importantly and most potently, telling children that they need to see race everywhere at the same time. You are not telling them to focus on hard academics. We’re not teaching engineering and math anymore, we’re teaching critical race theory. That is the most important element, and that is because what they want to do is to water down the education system to produce dumber kids, because dumber kids, because you can almost guarantee that they're going to become servants to the government. They will end up on welfare, because they have no practical skills. 

  • Fox host Rachel Campos-Duffy said that “critical race theory and gender ideology have infected nearly every institution in America” and that progressives are going after the military.

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    Citation From the April 1, 2021, edition of Fox News Primetime

    RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY (HOST): I'm Rachel Campos-Duffy, and tonight, the left's dangerous ideology continues its slow creep into all facets of American life. Critical race theory and gender ideology have infected nearly every institution in America. And while conservatives were politely debating ideas and our fancy think tanks were churning out policy papers, progressives were ruthlessly conquering cultural territory: Hollywood, universities, public school, media, Big Tech, Wall Street, and, very importantly, corporate boards. But the last vestige of the pro-American meritocracy still standing was the U.S. military. From the progressive perspective, the military was too masculine, had way too many Republicans, and a dangerous knack of turning minorities into patriotic, self-reliant conservatives. This could not stand.

  • Anti-trans writer Abigail Shrier said “gender ideology” is “very much like critical race theory” in that one “tells women they are never allowed to speak up if they feel unsafe” and the other tells white people “that they're not entitled to be part of any conversation.” 

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    Citation From the March 18, 2021, edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight

    ABIGAIL SHRIER (WRITER): It’s a really hard-left, radical position, gender ideology, and I think there is a degree of misogyny behind it. It, very much like critical race theory, tells, you know, white people that they're not entitled to be part of any conversation, or gender ideology tells women they are never allowed to speak up if they feel unsafe, or if they feel threatened, or that if they feel their competitions aren't fair because they're competing against biological men.

  • Fox guest Jason Whitlock said that trans inclusion and “critical race theory” are “about serving feelings, more than serving reality.”

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    Citation From the March 3, 2021, edition of Fox News' Life, Liberty & Levin

    MARK LEVIN (HOST): You have the president of the United States, Joe Biden, signing an executive order that basically destroys girls' sports in high school. And I said why in the world would you do something like that? And then you watch these executive orders being signed that are enshrining critical race theory in the federal government and in our school systems. That is a theory the American people need to know that is blatantly racist, that holds that this is a white-dominated society from day one and there's not a damn thing we can do about it, which is so appalling.

    The 1619 Project from The New York Times, it completely undermines the founding of the nation, then you watch, and you see how this spreads throughout society with Dr. Seuss, and the Muppets, and things that you can't even imagine where people are projecting their agendas on it, and so forth. Can a country that is at war with itself, or as Lincoln would say, divided against itself, attacking its own founding, attacking its own principles, can it survive?

    JASON WHITLOCK (BLAZETV): No. And that's why the American people have to get energized and have to take the country back from our politicians, because we've moved into a fantasy world, Mark, where everything is about feelings. And so you talk about the executive order where biologically born men can now participate in girls' sports, and that's about a feeling: I feel like I'm a woman, therefore you have to enact laws that satisfy my feelings. I'm not trying to denigrate or blast transgender people and their feelings. But a country can't operate on feelings. A country can't set up laws based on feelings. They have to be based on facts, data, and it has to serve the entire country. It can't be this emotional thing.

    And so the 1619 Project and critical race theory, this is about serving feelings, more than serving reality. There were laws in America that needed to be changed to ensure freedom for Black Americans. We changed those laws.