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  8:52 am
Commenter: Eric Bonnell

Parents, not governmental institutions, raise children

Political agenda has no place in the school. Parents have the responsibility and therefore the autonomy to choose what they see fit for their children to learn. Ethical and religious decisions are the parents to make. School administrators and teachers are meant to teach children the mechanics they need to understand the world and come to their own conclusions as the come of age. I am very glad that my child is past the school age and  not imposed upon by those with an agenda that bullies children into a single mindset that divides them against others. Diversity applies to all and the Constitution acknowledges that. The issues of slavery and gender are being discussed as if people today have caused the problem. When Fred Rogers was on television, he taught Diversity as a strength and not a dividing issue. Parents had the choice to turn off the television or change the channel  if they disagreed with his message. Parents should have the same power with the schools. Government has no place in these issues; public schools are failing because they are administered by people who are not true educators. True educators build up children for success and do not leverage them as pawns to push a political agenda. Anyone, regardless of political affiliation, who teaches children need to assess the appropriateness of topics for the developmental age of the children, with parental approval, and in areas where it is appropriate to bring a topic into the classroom, children should be given the spectrum of thought on the topic and work with their parents to decide their opinion on that topic. Teach diversity as a strength and teach children that they all have different traits that can be used for good if they work together. Teach children to appreciate differences of traits and opinions, and to use them to build a better world.

CommentID: 129037