The Virginia Board of Juvenile Justice voted this week to ban anti-gay discrimination despite state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli issuing a strong opinion against such a move.
The three member board (usually seven but three were absent and one abstained), all appointed by former Democratic governor TImothy M. Kaine, voted unanimously Wednesday to back the ban despite Cuccinelli warning them of his belief that only the General Assembly has the power to designate a special classification and that such a move would exceed their authority.
From The Washington Post:
Equality Virginia, a gay rights group, touted a national study Wednesday estimating that 8 percent of boys and 23 percent of girls in juvenile detention identify their sexuality as other than heterosexual.
The Department of Juvenile Justice operates the five facilities as well as a diagnostic facility, and the Board of Juvenile Justice sets broad policy for the agency.
James Parrish, Equality Virginia’s executive director, said Cuccinelli (R) and McDonnell “appear, once again, to have put their brand of perceived political correctness above the safety of our children.”
“Our children need and deserve protection against discrimination and harassment, especially when they are held in state custody with no avenue of escape or safe harbor from abuse,” he said.
The exact import of this decision will be discussed at a a special meeting of the board sometime during the next month but the board has also agreed to continue to consult with the attorney general’s office on the matter so as to ensure that it comports with state law.
However, attempting to reverse or prevent LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination policies has been Cuccinelli’s approach since being voted into office in 2010.
Last year he tried to strong-arm universities in Virginia into rescinding similar LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination rules only for them to ignore his opinion, saying there was a firmly established precedent for universities to establish anti-discrimination measures based on and also building on state level statutes. Read more on that here.
Cuccinelli’s advice also appeared to be ignored when the state’s board of corrections chose last year to reaffirm an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy.
Pressure from Cuccinelli did however lead to the Virginia Board of Social Security abandoning an LGBT-inclusive non discrimination policy earlier this year. You can read more on that here.