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  9:18 am
Commenter: Patrick Coleburn

Strongly Oppose These Policies that will Harm Children

These policies are rooted in transphobia and seeks to further harm trans and nonbinary kids. Forcing children to out themselves to non-supportive parents will harm children.  Forcing parents and children to make legal decisions while a child is still developing and growing will harm families. Respecting every individual is not hard to do and can be accomplished with the original model policies that the General Assembly and the last administration put together.  

The actual studies around transgender/non-binary school policies does not support the bathroom and sports policies that this administration is proposing.  These policies prohibit access and/or participation in activities consistent with their gender identity without real evidence that any other children are harmed by inclusion.

Hiding transphobia and hatred of what is different from what you consider the norm behind some vague notion of parental choice is absurd.  These policies are an intrusion into families' choices, not a support for each parent making choices for how they raise their children.  It is laughable to call these supportive of parental choice. 

I implore the Board of Education to reject these reject these policies as they are fueled by hatred and do the exact opposite of what they claim to do--they restrict parents choices on how to raise their children and make it harder for teachers and faculty to support parental choice for parents of transgender and non-binary children.

CommentID: 129117