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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10/26/22  11:24 pm
Commenter: Anonymous

Strongly Opposed

I strongly oppose this policy.  It helps no one, but harms many.  

As a Fairfax County resident, I'm aware that a recent Fairfax Youth Survey, says 2.5-5 % of secondary students identify as trans, and 16-25 % are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

A quick review of the Trevor Project website reveals the following about suicide:

  • LGBTQ youth are more than 4 times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers
  • More than 50 % of trans youths seriously considered suicide during the previous year
  • In particular, 59 % of black transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide and more than 1 in 4 attempted suicide in the past year
  • The Trevor Project estimates at least 1 LGBTQ youth (13-24) attempts suicide every 45 seconds

I hope most people would agree these numbers are more than troubling.  Let's take a look at what The Trevor Project has to say about the impact of having an accepting adult in an LGBTQ youth's life, or school:

  • Only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youths experience parental acceptance; with additional 1/3 experiencing parental rejection; and the final not disclosing their LGBTQ identity until they are adults
  • Only 55 % of LGBTQ youth report their school is LGBTQ-affirming; research consistently finds LGBTQ young people report lower rates of attempting suicide when they have access LGBTQ affirming spaces
  • Having at least 1 accepting adult can reduce the risk of suicide attempt among LGBTQ young people by 40 %
  • LGBTQ youth report they have higher levels of self-esteem with the presence of trusted adults in their school

If these statistics don't persuade you, perhaps economic consequences may; history shows businesses may not come or stay in a state with these type of proposed policies.

In summary, I once read that LGBTQ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but rather they are placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society.  Further, Nelson Mandela said, "The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children".  Last, I second another person who posted here when he/she said parents have a right to know their children are safe at school, and these policies will harm student safety.  

CommentID: 202817