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  11:54 pm
Commenter: Tanya Karapurkar Bhasin, School Board Member

Strong Opposition to Governor Youngkin's Proposed Model Policy 2022

I am writing to you as a parent of three public school students, Virginia resident, and member of the Norfolk School Board.  My comments are mine alone and are not reflective of the views of the Norfolk School Board.  

I am writing in opposition to the VDOE's plan, under the Youngkin administration, to reverse the 2021 model policy for the treatment of transgender students.  The Youngkin adminisration's actions to reverse the 2021 policy is unacceptable and reprehensible given the negative impacts it will continue to ensue on our transgender youth at a time when districts are making great strides to create more caring, supportive, and inclusive learning environments.   

A recent report by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), showed that nearly 82% of LGBTQ+ students felt unsafe while at school and that these feelings, in what is perceived as increasingly hostile learning environments, has impacted students' participation in extracurricular activities, school functions, and achieving positive academic outcomes.  These findings are in alignment with mounting research that has found a correlation between gender-supporting and gender-affirming policies and learning environments and improved mental health, stronger sense of belonging at school, decreased emotional stress, and improved student outcomes. 

It is my hope you will consider the vast research on the importance of supporting LGBTQ+ students in an effort to ensure that each child is able to reach their full potential. 

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