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: Anonymous

Schools are for children to learn and grow.

What is the purpose of public school than to act as a place for students to safely grow and learn, both about themselves and the world around them? These proposed policies not only stifle that pure and simple goal, they actively attack it. School staff is trained and works tirelessly to gain the necessary experience and trust of their students. Parents have any number of organizations, religious or other, to participate with their children and instill their individual family values. Virginia already has a program for families who feel strongly about their children's education and being closely involved with it: They're home-schooled. Public school is for all. ALL means everyone. 

Not every child is born into or able to live in a home environment where they are adequately supported. If you doubt that, have a conversation with a CPS worker. Commenters who express support for the policies by insisting "schools should educate only!" grossly fail to realize the breadth of education empowering students today. More than that, oversimplified declarations like that completely ignore the role public schools play as undeniable safety nets for communities. It's where we catch (recognize) and pull up(help) kids who need more to eat, kids who need appropriate clothing or school supplies, kids who need extra time to master an area of study -- all that IN ADDITION to learning numerous subjects and how to socialize with people who are alike AND different than them. Then consider the counselors and teachers and staff who act as the eyes and ears, alerting our communities when students are experiencing any number or concerning issues outside of school. Saving a child from an abusive or neglectful home environment probably isn't considered "educating only," but would you rather the school staff ignored a problem that won't appear on a standardized test? Empowering teachers does not mean parents are restricted in any way from participating in their children's lives. 


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