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  9:24 am
Commenter: Erica Sims

Oppose this Guidance

As a parent of a young child attending Virginia public schools, I oppose this guidance. It is clear in reading the comments in support of this guidance that this "parents rights" or "parents choice" language is a guise. The guidance seems to me to seek to shame and delegitimize transgender and other nonbinary identities. Commenters in support of this guidance make claims around the physical and sexual safety of children - saying that to keep children safe from predatory behavior, this guidance must be approved. Commenters state that transgender or nonbinary identities are not scientifically or emotionally valid, that they don't exist and should not be recognized by society. This is what is at the heart of this bill, not parent involvement. No one on either side of this debate wants parents to be eliminated from important decisions and discussions related to their children. To suggest otherwise is a perfect example of gaslighting. Our current school system and guidance allows me, as a parent, to be as fully involved as I need and want to be in important decisions concerning my child. This bill is an attempt to push back on the visibility and dignity of transgender and nonbinary people. I don't approve of this.

CommentID: 129140