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  9:15 am
Commenter: Krista Martin

LGBT Mom of LGBT Children Supports This Measure

Let me begin by saying that I am an openly gay mother of several openly gay children that I would give my last breath for. I have been very active in their school life since 2009 when my oldest began kindergarten in Spotsylvania. I have not always agreed with things that have happened in their schools, eg; taking away Spanish as an elective, using the taking away of playground time as a form of punishment, to name a few, but I stand by the staff at my children’s schools because I come from a long line of teachers myself and I have seen first hand the love and dedication it takes to be an educator. 
That being said, those educators are not my children’s parents, I am.  Those teachers are not their healthcare providers, the medical teams I have carefully selected over 19 years and have been charged with giving the level of care my children need, are. They are also not the therapists or psychiatrists in charge of my children’s mental health, again, the team I selected and they agree to, are. If there is an issue I need to be made aware of, especially when the consequences of keeping it a secret could be life altering, it is my right as a parent to know so that I can go to the medical teams and address it with the appropriate authorities so my children can receive the care they need. 
While I understand not every parent is as understanding and loving as myself and my husband, I still believe it is the parents right and the schools obligation to inform parents  of concerns involving their children, from poor grades, bullying, to medical concerns. I also understand that there are concerns of potential abuse stemming from “outing” a child, I take them seriously as we all should, but school administrators, teachers, and guidance staff are all trained court mandated reporters. This means the door will open for getting children out of homes that are dangerous for them. 
As Virginians we should be concerned for a movement that seeks to keep parents for being involved in their children’s lives, especially considering how some counties have covered up sexual assaults or other issues like riots and large scale fights among other things. Where does it stop? When do parental rights end and those of the educational system begin?

CommentID: 129107