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  9:47 am
Commenter: Wren

Gov. Younkin is putting youth in danger

As a queer, nonbinary person myself, gov. younkin's actions are putting our community in danger. Apart from the harmful rhetoric about trans people in general (who are overwhelmingly more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator of it) both forcing people in or out of the closet is going to have costs. Being forced in the closet can feel oppressive, as you are forced to act a part for everyone with no reprieve to live authentically (an experience glenn will never have to understand) on the other hand, being outed before you are ready can set people (youth especially) up to face physical and emotional violence at the hands of family and peers. LGBT people, especially trans people, already have much higher rates of eating disorders, mental illness, self harm, and suicide then the general public. More so in communities that make it clear that they are not safe and welcome. youngkin is fine letting youth suffer to feed a lie passed on by people with power and prejudice. 

Someone's personal gender or queer identity is no business of the state, apart from changing one's name on official documents. This should go doubly for youth, who's gender transition consists of nothing more than a new name and wardrobe - something many youth queer or otherwise will experience. If Abigail wants to go by Abby and dress goth that is seen as youthful exploration of identity, however if Abigail wants to go by Elliott and dress more masculine they are "indoctrinated" or are somehow in danger or putting their community in danger. Exploring your identity is essential to growing up, and queer youth deserve to do so safely without fearing that adults who are supposed to protect them will put them further in danger.

The choice to not capitalize gov. youngkin's name is purposeful - bigotry does not earn the respect of capitalization. 

To any queer youth (or young at heart) that may be reading this looking for any kind of support - it does get better. Our community will welcome you with open arms by any name or label that you choose. Seek community, pass on as much love as possible, and build other's up in a world that constantly wants to tear us down. Queer existence is radical, and no person should have to align their identity to fit within the confines of the wishes of the state. There is no one mold for being human, there are centuries of queer people standing with you, and millions waiting to welcome you into our community today.


CommentID: 129220