The Fairfax County School Board voted Tuesday in favor of a new proposal that would begin the process of achieving parity in family planning benefits for LGBTQ employees and staff.
The decision, which council members unanimously approved, mandates the superintendent. Michelle Reid to develop a legal plan for how the school system can achieve parity in family planning benefits for qualified LGBTQ employees.
Family planning coverage – which includes health screenings, infertility and preconception services, and methods to both prevent pregnancy and help achieve it – is designed to offset the financial costs for those looking to start their own family.
Co-sponsoring the proposal with fellow board member Megan McLaughlin, Karl Frisch released a statement following the decision. The policy, Frisch said, would help maintain and grow their workforce and lead the school system toward a more equitable environment for employees.
“To attract and retain a top-notch workforce, especially in this fiercely competitive hiring environment, qualified FCPS employees must have equitable access to the school division’s robust family planning medical benefits,” said Frisch said. “Our LGBTQIA+ employees and their families deserve the same respect and support as everyone else. Fairness is fundamental.
Frisch, in his statement, also notes the broader disparities in family planning benefits when detailing the rationale for the council’s decision.
“Almost universally, medical insurance providers define family planning benefits that assist in conception in heterosexual terms, leaving qualified LGBTQIA+ employees with limited access to the same benefits enjoyed by their non-LGBTQIA+ colleagues and forcing them to pay out of pocket. pocket the necessary treatments,” Frisch wrote.
Given the additional services typically required for LGBTQ individuals and couples to become parents, disproportionate costs are often exacerbated when medical insurance refuses to cover these costs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Data collected by Family Equality, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote equality for LGBTQ families and those trying to start them, suggests that in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment alone — than same-sex couples sex wishing to have a biological connection to their children widely use – can cost anywhere from $13,500 to over $21,000.
This is in addition to data which, as Family Equality notes, suggests that LGBTQ households in America earn less on average than non-LGBTQ households.
While Frisch acknowledged parity is being achieved to a greater extent at the local level and in the private sector, he said the statewide landscape necessitated the school board’s decision.
“Some local governments and businesses have instituted grant programs to close this gap and provide parity in family planning benefits to qualified LGBTQIA+ employees,” Frisch wrote. “Additionally, a few states now require insurance companies to provide parity in family planning benefits to LGBTQIA+ people, unlike Virginia.”
Following approval of the proposal, the board gave Reid six months to create the plan which “will analyze the [Fairfax County Public Schools] family planning benefits” to identify appropriate benefits and achieve parity within the district.