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.
Previous Comment     Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
10/26/22  11:38 pm
Commenter: Cassandra

Protections of transgender children is important

My name is Cassandra, and I graduated from a Virginia high school last year. The 2021 policies, many of which are being repealed, was extremely helpful in navigating an extremely difficult time of my life. I was able to use gender neutral bathrooms to avoid making myself or anyone else uncomfortable, and they absolutely should still be required for schools to have. While I understand that some biologically female students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender girl using the same facilities, gender neutral bathrooms entirely solve the issue. Furthermore, the changes requiring parental recognition are going to end up hurting transgender children. I was not comfortable coming out to my parents, and being able to be myself at school was one of the few positive things I had going for my mental health that year. Furthermore, I knew many other transgender students who were in similar or worse situations. One of my friends would have likely faced abuse and been kicked out of his house if his parents found out, and the changes to policy that force teachers to "out" trans kids would have hurt him enormously, and will end up hurting other trans kids. I strongly oppose the 2022 policies and support the continuation of the 2021 policies for the safety of all transgender students.

CommentID: 202900