Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Guidance Document Change: Every day, throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, educators and school leaders work to ensure that all students have an opportunity to receive a high-quality education. As a part of that work, educators strive to meet the individual needs of all students entrusted to their care, and teachers work to create educational environments where all students thrive. The Virginia Department of Education (the “Department”) recognizes that each child is a unique individual with distinctive abilities and characteristics that should be valued and respected. All students have the right to attend school in an environment free from discrimination, harassment, or bullying. The Department supports efforts to protect and encourage respect for all students. Thus, we have a collective responsibility to address topics such as the treatment of transgender students with necessary compassion and respect for all students. The Department also fully acknowledges the rights of parents to exercise their fundamental rights granted by the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children. The Code of Virginia reaffirms the rights of parents to determine how their children will be raised and educated. Empowering parents is not only a fundamental right, but it is essential to improving outcomes for all children in Virginia. The Department is mindful of constitutional protections that prohibit governmental entities from requiring individuals to adhere to or adopt a particular ideological belief. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees religious freedom and prohibits the government from compelling speech that is contrary to an individual’s personal or religious beliefs. The Department embarked on a thorough review of the Model Policies Guidance adopted on March 4, 2021 (the “2021 Model Policies”). The 2021 Model Policies promoted a specific viewpoint aimed at achieving cultural and social transformation in schools. The 2021 Model Policies also disregarded the rights of parents and ignored other legal and constitutional principles that significantly impact how schools educate students, including transgender students. With the publication of these 2022 Model Policies (the “2022 Model Policies”), the Department hereby withdraws the 2021 Model Policies, which shall have no further force and effect. The Department issues the 2022 Model Policies to provide clear, accurate, and useful guidance to Virginia school boards that align with statutory provisions governing the Model Policies. See Code of Virginia, § 22.1-23.3 (the “Act”). Significantly, the 2022 Model Policies also consider over 9,000 comments submitted to the Department during the public comment period for the 2021 Model Policies.
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9/26/22  8:08 am
Commenter: Gay Rights Activist and Parent

U.S. History and the Virginia Code and Rule of Law Affirms Parental Rights

I have been an active supporter of gay rights for over a decade and sat on a national board that helped to over turn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" established by U.S. President Bill Clinton.  I also worked tirelessly to support civil marriage for all consenting adults. These were monumental changes in our society that made us a better nation.  That said, the current movement by educators and some politicians who are not board certified in mental health, gender dysphoria, and pediatric medicine is profoundly disturbing, unethical, and akin to medical malpractice.  There is a bright line between adult decisions and parental rights and the law in Virginia is quite clear and is based on thousands of years of culture and human history writ large: § 1-240.1. Rights of parents. A parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent's child.  The attempt by some to separate parents from their minor children is chilling and dangerous.  It is what Stalin attempted to do in the Soviet Union, Pol Pot did in Cambodia, and what the Chinese Communist Party is current doing to the  Uyghur children. Educators and politicians who want to separate minor children claim parents will abuse or harm children who may have gender dysphoria. Every educator and person who works with minor children is legally responsible to be a mandatory reporter so that all children are safe. Mandatory reporters are not to keep secrets with minor children from their parents.  If they suspect abuse they must immediately report that claim to law enforcement. There are laws on the books and training for all mandatory reporters to go to law enforcement so this argument is moot.  Think about this for a moment - how would you feel if a teacher gave razor blades to a minor child who is cutting themselves to "affirm" their affliction?  Or if a teacher helped an anorexic girl get fat removed from her body to "affirm" her affliction?  Affirming any mental health crisis without being board certified and without parental permission is caustic and destructive behavior.  It is insanity.  A child in Virginia schools cannot take an Tylenol without parental consent and yet some elected officials want to put the burden on educators to be a board certified medical professional. That is not only unethical it is illegal. To that end, this policy makes sense.  Removing parents from their legal responsibility to make decisions for their minor child by the school system is illegal and morally reprehensible.  This policy is on solid legal and moral footing and reaffirms parental rights in Virginia while supporting all children and ensuring educators are reminded they are educators and not medical professionals.  

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