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.
Previous Comment     Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
9/26/22  10:07 am
Commenter: Casey B.

Inclusion for All

As someone who grew up in the Virginia public school system, I am appalled at this proposed legislation.  Stop using your bigoted view of the world in an attempt to create inequality and exclusion for transgender or other LGBTQ+ students.  

While there is plenty of data to show that trans and other LGBTQ+ youth already suffer from enough ostracism and rhetoric that implies their needs as not real and their identity as made up, it should suffice enough to simply say that legislative decisions such as this one are inhumane. I cannot imagine a world in which any person, child or adult, telling me they identify as LGBTQ+ would cause me to then treat them as LESS of a human. Our schools should be the safest place for our students. No teacher or staff member should be forced by bigoted political legislation to put these children in danger either by “outing” them to someone who does not support who they are or by making them feel they must hide who they truly are in order to not be “outed”.  I cannot believe that we have come so far as a society, only to be actually discussing taking such a major step back.

We have to do better.  We have to provide these students with safe placed to learn.  We have to provide them support and encouragement to be who they are.  And above all, we MUST treat them with respect and dignity.  

CommentID: 129324