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  9:22 am
Commenter: Tobey Longanecker

Strongly Oppose

This model is being used under the guise of parental rights.  However, it is not about parental rights, but about transphobia and misinformation.  If you are being an active parent, then your children will come to you.  If you aren't, why are you only now taking a weird stance on being involved?  Transphobia.  There is not a single peer-reviewed study that suggests lack of support discourages a person from being trans.  None.  There are several that say a supportive environment curbs suicidal thoughts and lessen depression and anxiety.  If you truly want schools to focus on reading, writing, math, and science, and only those things, then schools need to stop providing food, clothing, transportation, extra curricular activities that are not solely academic.  None of those things fall under reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Compassion is the bedrock for all religions (who seem to be the ones in support of this bigotry) and yet instead of trying to alleviate the pain in our neighbor's lives, we instead want to deny their existence and their right to exist.  Your children are watching the way you are behaving and they see what you are saying about them, their friends, their cousins.  You are doing way more damage to your parent-child relationship than this policy ever could.  

I strongly oppose this policy and any similar policies that do not allow common courtesy and basic human respect for someone we may not understand. 

CommentID: 129134