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  11:34 pm
Commenter: Omar Nasery

Oppose! And leave these children alone

Thank you Governor Youngkin.......for again demonstrating that campaign nonsense about "freedoms" is nothing more than rhetorical claptrap about control and denial of what should be basic human rights. This model is targeted at a small, vulnerable segment of children who need support, and waves the Fourteenth Amendment around as justification? Read the text: "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Reversing the existing policy is to treat these children in a decidedly UNEQUAL fashion, by denying them the caring and nurturing environment that would be afforded other students in difficult circumstances, simply because those difficulties are to their orientation. Nor can you seriously pretend a denial of the rights of these children (to make their own choices, to express themselves as the people they want to be without fear of retribution or harassment) is "restoring" some kind of freedom denied exclusively to their parents. Not unless you believe that they are mere appendages of their parents, unworthy of the same constitutional protections until they get to the age of emancipation.

Once again, a political platform predicated on "getting government out of our lives" has seen fit to firmly insert itself into the lives of families, a place where it has no business being, because of an ideological, executive-driven mandate. And once again, a small and vulnerable subset of our population is being used as a political prop for another electoral wedge issue to be rammed down the throats of ordinary Virginians, who just want to raise their kids in healthy and nurturing environments. Enough! People are sick of it.

I take solace in the fact that, based on the reaction among students to these proposed changes, these kids have each other's backs and recognize a cheap ploy like this for what it is. Even as their Governor pursues policies to scrutinize, exploit and (let's be honest) backhandedly demonize them to rile up "the base" for his own cynical political gain. If you have an ounce of shame, leave LGBTQ+ children out of your crosshairs, and let them be who they are without the big hand of government trying to push them a certain way. Get back to administering the Commonwealth, and please END the business of trying to micromanage how people live their lives in order to win votes through division, exploitation, and fear.

CommentID: 202879