Controversy over LGBTQ+ materials in Roanoke County schools sparks debate

A peaceful protest was held at Glen Cove Elementary Friday in support of the LGBTQ+ community

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Claims of inappropriate usage of LGBTQ+ materials at Glen Cove Elementary were front and center on May 18 at the Roanoke County School Board meeting.

Dozens of parents and supporters showed out Friday for a peaceful demonstration to show support for the teachers the claims are against.

Glen Cove parent Samantha Newell organized a peaceful demonstration Friday in support of several school staff members.

“I just wanted to make sure each staff member knew that they were loved and supported,” Newell said.

This huge show of support comes after the school board meeting at which parents voiced concerns over LGBTQ+ teachings at school.

“The words of hatred at that school board meeting do not speak for me,” Newell said. “I desperately want my child at a school that is full of love and rainbows.”

Glen Cove parent Damon Gettier is one of four parents that spoke at the meeting.

Gettier says he was concerned after he heard his son talking to a friend regarding transgender teachings he’d reportedly learned at school.

“They were talking about how a staff person had told them that a boy could be a girl and a girl could be a boy and that they could decide,” Gettier said.

Gettier’s concerns grew after visiting his son at school. He says he saw rainbows and other pride symbols as decorations and on staff. He says he even saw this in yearbook photos.

He didn’t name specific teachers, but he did say the music teacher, counselor, psychologist, and assistant principal were “indoctrinating” the students.

“I had to explain to my nine-year-old what transgender was because Glen Cove Elementary woke staff put me in a situation where I had to,” Gettier said.

Several parents say they were appalled at Gettier’s accusations.

“It hurts that they’re taking their lack of love within themselves and turning it into negative things towards people who genuinely and unconditionally love their kids,” Newell said.

She says students need teachers they can go to for support.

They say they plan to attend the next school board meeting to make their voices heard.

Roanoke County Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely said, “While we cannot comment on the specifics of a personnel matter, we do want to affirm that Roanoke County Public Schools’ focus is on our students and their learning and wellbeing. Our baseline belief is that our schools must be safe and caring places for all students, where they can learn free of disruption.”

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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