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: Annette Fritz

This is an attempt to harm students and schools

Students are NOT solely the property of their parents and do have rights granted to them that Virginia is attempting to ignore. It is NOT the responsibility of schools to out queer students to parents; if parents have put any work into their relationship with their children, than they would know already if their child wants to use different names. The parents who applaud this expect the school to take over their parental responsibility to build a relationship with their kids. Furthermore, if most who want this policy actually spent time in school activities with their kids, they’d find out very quickly what their child is going by and their child’s thoughts. This is the government overreaching into schools for parents too lazy to actually parent their child and create a loving environment at home for their own children. 

It will also place undue burden on teachers and open the schools for liability when a name is forgotten to be passed on or a parent accuses an unknowing teacher of hiding a name that the kid told their friends, but never explicitly told the teacher. 

For the kids who will be outed to unsupportive or bigoted parents, the results can end in death, homelessness, and physical or emotional abuse. Studies show repeatedly that queer kids are not inherently more likely to be suicidal than their peers EXCEPT when faced with unsupportive family or school environments. Per the Trevor Project and the UCLA and Williamson Center, students in supportive environments fair significantly better than students who are forced into unsafe and unsupportive environments. 

Stop using children and public education as pawns in your political games. Stop trying to damage public education. 

CommentID: 129109