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  10:02 am
Commenter: Michael A

Strongly Oppose


My name is Michael and I am an openly gay man currently residing of Hyattsville, Maryland, however for the last 4 years I had lived in Arlington and prior to that in Fairfax County. I am writing today to express my strong opposition to the Governors proposed changes that would directly impact the lives of trans students in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Transgender students deserve to feel safe and accepted just like every other person. and trans youth are already at a higher risk of depression, suicide, and violence. This decision is leading to make the lives harder of kids and teens already struggling with their gender identity and sexual orientation. Some statistics for you to consider - 40% of all homeless youth in the United States identify as LGBTQ+ (Morton, M.H., Dworsky, A., Matjasko, J.L., Curry, S.R., Schlueter, D., Chávez, R. & Farrell, A.F. (in press). Prevalence and correlates of youth homelessness in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health.), three-quarters of students who identify as transgender or non-binary have felt unsafe at school because of the way they expressed their gender (75.1%), and of those students who identified as “another gender” or “genderqueer,” two-thirds felt unsafe at school (‘another gender” 61.2% and “genderqueer” 61.6% ). Finally, trans people are over 4 times more likely than cisgender people to be victims of violent crime.

This guidance also runs the very real risk of forcing teachers to out students against their will, which could lead to the potential of violence and abuse against the child. I want to make this very clear, just because it is 2022 and the LGBTQ+ rights movement has made strides over the last decade or so does not mean we are completely safe. Even now kids are thrown out of their homes, beaten and abused just for being who they truly are. People who are LGBTQ+ deserve the right to come out to people when they are ready and only when they are ready, as I did at the age of 21.  

Children deserve to feel safe at school and at home, and I hope the administration will change its stance and stop this dangerous guidance from going into effect.

CommentID: 129301