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  9:21 am
Commenter: Henrico Parent, M.Ed

Strongly Opposed

The policy released for transgender and non-binary students is extremely dangerous and cruel. Children know who they are, and as adults we should trust them to show their true selves. This policy absolutely does not protect children and parents’ rights. This protects bigots who are afraid of people different from them. When we don’t allow students to be their true selves, we risk their safety and mental health. 

As a teacher, currently on child rearing leave, I can assure you that students can only learn and thrive in a place where they feel safe, loved, and valued. Teachers must first ensure that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are met so that children can learn. Part of this is ensuring a child’s safety.  By forcing families to provide permission and documents to support their children, and forcing children to out themselves in potentially unsafe situations, you are doing the exact opposite of these things. Follow the research, which these policies are wrong on a human and educational level, and state law. Trans and non-binary students are valued and deserving of a space to learn where they can truly be themselves, without interference and permission from an adult. 

As a parent, if my children choose to use a different bathroom or pronouns they will be supported and loved. I expect the same from any classroom and school my child enters. This would not be the case, should these policies be in place. 

CommentID: 129129