Loudoun County, Virginia, has become the nucleus of a growing movement of parents and educators united against schools teaching critical race theory, a philosophy that categorizes individuals into groups of oppressors and victims based on their race.
Michael Rivera, a father of two from Loudoun County, advocates against critical race theory and other proposed leftist policies coming from the Loudoun County School Board.
“As I delve more into the actual academic writings of critical race theory, it gets more and more concerning and scarier because it doesn’t seem like there is any point at which there is atonement for being an oppressor,” Rivera says, “or if there is any way to resolve the issues that are supposed to be systematic without essentially tearing down all of the social constructs and all of the norms and government and education.”
Rivera joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss how leftist policies have affected him and his children, as well as what he and other parents are doing to fight back.
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- The Miss Nevada crown is given to a person who identifies as transgender for the first time.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Doug Blair: My guest today is Michael Rivera, a father of two from Loudoun County, Virginia, and an outspoken advocate against the proposed leftist policies in the county schools. Welcome to the show, Michael.
Michael Rivera: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m glad that the media is actually looking into everything that’s going on.
Blair: Well, we definitely wanted to talk to you about this. We actually met for the first time at an anti-[critical race theory] rally in Loudoun County, where you gave a speech denouncing critical race theory. I was so moved by that speech that I wanted to talk to you on the podcast.
So, my first question for you, Michael, is, can you explain to us what’s going on, specifically in Loudoun County, and how parents like you are responding to it?
Rivera: Absolutely. I’m a little embarrassed because I’m kind of late to the game. I just got involved in the last probably four to six weeks. Apparently, the school board has been contracting out to The Equity Collaborative to the tune of close to half a million dollars for critical race theory-based training.
The important thing to note is that they keep saying they’re not teaching critical race theory or using it. I think there’s a lot of bait and switch in terms of terminology. So, when I refer to critical race theory, I’m referring to all of the derivatives and all of the other names that they use.
What I found out is that the Loudoun County School Board has been completely ignoring the cries from the parents in Loudoun to stop teaching this toxic indoctrination to our children.
All that parents really wanted to begin with was a dialogue so that we can compromise and talk and understand what’s going on. But as you can see from the last school meeting, which occurred, I believe it was last week, it’s only gotten more and more contentious to the point where they basically ended the meeting and cut off all speech from parents.
Blair: It does seem like this is something that the school board is explicitly trying to deny or force the parents out, to not have to deal with this.
One of the things that I was actually really struck about with your speech was when you talked about how CRT had affected your kids. You talked about how your children were biracial, and that since your son resembles his mom who is white, he supposedly has white privilege, and that your daughter who resembles you, so she looks a little more Hispanic, does not.
Have you found that this has affected how they’re taught or treated by their teachers at the school?
Rivera: I’m not sure, but it gives me concern to know that that’s the premise under which the school, the teachers, and the administrators are operating.
As I delve more into the actual academic writings of critical race theory, to be honest, it gets more and more concerning and scarier because it doesn’t seem like there is any point at which there is atonement for being an oppressor, or if there is any way to resolve the issues that are supposed to be systematic without essentially tearing down all of the social constructs and all of the norms and government and education.
But I don’t quite see, I don’t see the endgame and it doesn’t seem like the endgame is going to benefit anybody, and it’s definitely not going to benefit our children.
Blair: Definitely. It’s one of those topics that really affects the kids in a way that I don’t think we completely can explain to people where it’s like, this is something that’s so bad, but they’re just not listening.
So, on a similar note to that, how your children are treated, what have you noticed as a parent that is happening in the schools that reinforces critical race theory or some of the other far-left policies? I know we’ve mentioned a little bit, like these are things that are explicitly taught by teachers. But can you give some of our listeners an example of something you’ve observed that raises a red flag in the school system?
Rivera: Oh, absolutely. So, what caught my eye was a video that my wife brought to my attention and it would have snuck in under the radar had she not been fairly diligent about reading some of the emails from the school.
It was a cartoonish video that started off with some professionals, they were all depicted as white persons—doctor, lawyer, police officer—and the video went on to demonize them for being white, and discussing stats about how the little black girl is not going to be successful as the little black boy, and how the black girl is going to have less opportunities in college. When she gets a job, even if it is the same job, she’s going to make less money than the white boy in college or the white girl in college.
It was, I mean, it was a little disheartening that a 13-year-old is looking at this.
Then recently, as of a couple of weeks ago, we get a weekly email from the principal that says, “Hey, these are the things that we’re going to be discussing in a homeroom setting and the first topic on Monday.” The email goes out Friday, and you have no recourse to call anybody and let them know that you prefer your child not to be in …
The first video Monday morning was one of the teachers discussing gender pronouns to the kids. So, all I can imagine is, what do kids think when someone says, “I’m not a he or she. I’m a they or a them”? And they don’t have any basis to form that idea because their minds just aren’t developed to understand more complex ideas of gender curiosity.
Blair: It almost sounds like, in addition to the critical race theory stuff, they are trying to insert more of the gender or transgenderism policies into the school system as well.
Rivera: Oh, absolutely, and Policy 8040 is the Loudoun County proposed policy for transgender students, whereby however, whatever gender a child decides to pick, the teachers are to refer to that child by their preferred pronoun. Boys deciding to be girls can go into the girl’s bathroom and vice versa.
What I found interesting is that we’re not hearing a lot of problems about girls going into boys’ bathroom, but the exact opposite. I’m also not hearing anyone really standing up for girls’ and women’s rights with respect to bathrooms and privacies and lockers, and especially in sports.
How does this affect young ladies in sports that fought so long to get equality in sports and have their own program, and all of a sudden, now you have a biological male competing in your sport?
Blair: Right, and all of this actually brings to mind a case that came out of Loudoun County recently with a PE teacher, Tanner Cross, where Tanner was basically suspended from school for expressing his discontent with a proposed policy that would force teachers to refer to students by their preferred gender pronouns. So, if a man said, “I want to be referred to as a girl,” the teacher would have to do that or face consequences.
That actually leads me to my next question, where we have all these stories about the ongoing fights between the school board and parents that are basically saying, “Enough is enough, we don’t want this in our school systems.” But I haven’t really heard too much about how the students feel. I’m curious if you have any insight on maybe what your kids have said about what’s going on in school, or if their friends have said anything. What do the students feel about this?
Rivera: My son hasn’t really said anything about it. … It’s interesting because I was talking to him the other day and I started discussing gender curiosity and some of the things and how people are trans. I noticed that he got very quiet, and then shortly after, I said, “Hey, do you have any questions? I didn’t throw all the gory details in there, but I wanted him to sort of get a baseline for what’s being discussed. He came out to me and said, “Papa, the reason I got quiet is because I’m uncomfortable discussing that.”
So, that, a light bulb went on in my head, thinking, “Well, if he’s uncomfortable with his father and his mother’s discussing this, how is he supposed to feel in front of strangers talking about these things, especially since it’s a sensitive topic?” And also, his friends, he doesn’t pick friends by color.
Rivera: He doesn’t pick friends by nationality. So, I can only imagine that the things he’s not telling me is an indication that he’s sort of grinning and bearing his way through it, but we try and educate him as much as possible.
Blair: Definitely. I mean, it definitely seems as if the difference between having these conversations at home and having these conversations in your school are night and day.
So, seeing as we focused a little bit on the issues that are cropping up in Loudoun County right now, I want to take some time to highlight some of the good things, some of the positive steps.
Would you be able to highlight some of the positive steps that parents are taking in Loudoun County to hold the school board accountable, and some advice that you might have for other communities across the country that are grappling with the same radical school boards?
Rivera: Well, as everybody keeps saying, unfortunately, Loudoun County’s in the spotlight, but I look at the national scene and there are a lot of parents doing similar things in New Jersey, Nevada, New York, and getting up and speaking. These are parents that are not white parents. There’s black parents. There’s Asian parents.
In Nevada, they were looking to put cameras in the classrooms. In New Jersey, they had originally. So this is all part of a larger issue of political school boards sort of taking liberties and going off the deep end in terms of wokeness.
Rivera: Fortunately, here in Loudoun, we’ve got a lot of parents that are emboldened by everything that’s happening, and to be honest, we’re not giving up. There are a lot of rallies going on. There’s a lot of talking going on.
The real sad part of it all is, a lot of people might’ve been not paying attention to the election, and myself included. I always thought, “Well, it’s going to sort of take care of itself. The school board will do the right thing, and it’s not that consequential.”
I think, as someone said in the news, that all of these political boards acting the way they are have awoken a sleeping giant, and this is not going to go away. It’s not going to end.
I tell you, our goal is to remove the school board so that we can get people in there that we can hold accountable, and that we can vet, and that … do not function as political puppets, because that’s where we are today. There is no representation of all of Loudoun in the school board. And as the Democrats would say, elections have consequences, and we’re suffering those consequences right now.
Blair: Right. So, moving on from that, we see that the giant is awake now, right? We’ve awoken the sleeping giant. We’ve knowledged that these school boards are doing things that had previously been sort of hidden, and now that we’re taking advantage of the fact that we’re paying attention, we’re going to move on it, and we’re going to stop this from happening.
What do you consider a success for your full efforts in Loudoun County? Is it the removal of these radical actors from the school boards? Is it changing the curriculum? What is the endgame here?
Rivera: Well, while I feel very strongly and passionate about the school board, in the grander scheme of things, this is small potatoes because we need to start looking at local elections, state elections, and national elections.
Because just recently the fact that the National Archives [and Records Administration] declared, I think in the last 48 hours, that their racial equity committee, which no one ever knew existed, deemed the [Capitol] Rotunda and the display of the Founding Fathers’ document to be racist and that something needed to happen there is an indication that this type of woke critical race theory type of thinking is coming from the highest office in the nation.
I honestly believe that our country is at stake. It’s not just the school boards, it is all of the politicians. And we really need to get motivated and get out there and vote.
So, I try and send a message to people that you don’t have an option to ignore your vote. If you say you don’t like what’s going on and you sit home, you just basically gave away that vote. Also, for conservatives to vote more cohesively, and make sure that we get the right candidates in office.
Blair: I think that’s some really good advice and solid advice. Now, Michael, we are running a little bit out of time, so I want to leave the last point to you. What do you think is the most important thing that listeners should take away from this interview?
Then, maybe a little more specifically, what should those listeners who have kids themselves and want to protect those kids from these radical proposals, what should they be doing? What should they be taking away from this interview?
Rivera: Well, I wrote down some notes at a prior event, that the only reason we are here is because of COVID and home distance learning. Had there not been any distance learning and parents looking over the shoulders of their kids, we’d probably be a year or two into this, and no one would have ever noticed.
So, my advice to people is to wake up, get involved, and start asking questions, but it takes a little bit of effort and it gets you out of your comfort zone. But we all need to become activists, especially when it involves our children and our family.
Blair: Solid advice. That was Michael Rivera, a father of two from Loudoun County, Virginia, and an outspoken advocate against the proposed leftist policies in Loudoun County. Thanks so much for your time, Michael.
Rivera: Thank you very much for having me.
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