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  9:38 am
Commenter: Simon Joyce

strongly oppose

I am strongly opposed to the proposed guidelines. As the parent of a transgender child in the Virginia public schools, I know that this proposal puts my child at risk of physical and mental harm. Having been part of initial consultations that resulted in the former guidelines, I also know how much care was taken to support children like mine to ensure that they can thrive and succeed in their education as much as cisgender peers; she has thrived under those guidelines, getting all As and Bs when previously her report card was full of Cs and Ds. The new guidelines being proposed take all that concern for her safety and mental health away for a mythical idea of "parent power" that the Governor seems to have decided is a vote-getting strategy. Everybody knows that parents don't always make best decisions for their children, especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ kids -- if they did, we wouldn't have conversion therapy or high rates of suicide and homelessness among that population. 

The proposed guidelines are cynical and shameful politics at their worst, putting a child like mine at risk to appease the Governor's political base. I oppose these guidelines in the strongest terms.

CommentID: 129190