Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Agency
Department of Education
 
Board
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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9/27/22  4:07 pm
Commenter: Virginia Senator Barbara Favola

Senator Barbara Favola's Public Comment on New Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students
 

On behalf of my constituents in Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties and transgender school children throughout the Commonwealth, I register my intense opposition to this proposed policy. In addition to potentially violating both the Virginia Human Rights Act and Sections 22.1-23.3. of the Code of Virginia that directs school districts to adopt policies that are respectful and inclusive of transgender students, this proposed policy is hurtful and cruel.

Our schools should be places where students can learn and socialize in an environment that encourages them to be their authentic selves. Forcing teachers to out students to parents who may not accept them puts those children at higher risk of emotional and physical abuse. Moreover, we know from research that students experience better mental health outcomes when teachers and school officials respect their gender and use their chosen names. We also know that prohibiting transgender students from using the bathrooms of their choice can lead to embarrassment and negative health consequences.

Virginia’s education policies should be both compassionate and evidenced-based, this proposed policy is neither. I strongly encourage the Department of Education to rescind it.

CommentID: 148430