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  9:08 am
Commenter: Megan

Let students be themselves. Stop rejecting progress.

As a long-time Virginia resident, I strongly oppose telling children they cannot be who they are or discuss their true selves in what should be a safe space: their classrooms with peers and teachers.

I know the quiet pain and fear of not being accepted - or even being bullied - that my LGBTQ+ friends and family lived with more than 25 years ago. My hope was this would change over time to encourage acceptance of ALL students being who they are in the fullest sense. I have seen great progress since then but this is a massive step back and it disappoints me to my core.

Mr. Youngkin: As Governor of an entire state, you have a responsibility to govern for ALL Virginians, whether they voted for you or not. This is not limited to only the people who share your personal views - or to benefit your long-term political goals. 

Please consider that a year into your role as Governor, your aim should be to support Virginians, not to make vulnerable communities and young students feel more marginalized. These hurtful proposed policies could have serious negative impacts on young children for years to come. The long-term effects of not feeling accepted as who you are during a vulnerable time in your life will not go away in the short-term.

CommentID: 129074