Dear Gov. Youngkin and Superintendent Balow,
I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed policy/guidance changes in regard to transgender students. In short, I feel the policy is dangerous and if nothing else hurtful and rude. It seems the sole purpose of the policy is to isolate a group of individuals who already feel isolated and in some instances terrified to exist.
As a father of 3 (one who is transgender), I have learned a lot about the hardships that kids in the transgender community face not just from their peers but at home as well. For some of these kids, the only adult in their life they may feel comfortable coming out to is a teacher at school. Some of these kids need to test the waters before coming out to their parents. For some of these kids, it's downright unsafe to come out to their parents. I have witnessed the reaction of parents finding out their kids are trans and it isn't always pleasant and/or loving. If you want to protect these kids and give them an equal chance to thrive in their school (and at home) give them the comfort of knowing the teacher or staff member they feel safe talking to doesn't out them to their parents.
In regards to calling kids by their preferred names and pronouns, I always hear people (and this policy) cite religion as well as the First Amendment as reasons for not calling someone by their preferred name and/or pronouns. I'm a devout Christian and I hate it when people use the Bible as a weapon. For every passage that someone pulls out to disparage the LGBTQ community I just need one as a rebuttal: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." We are supposed to love each other as Jesus has loved us. If you are a believer, Jesus loved us enough to die for all of our sins. You might not love your neighbor enough to die for them as Jesus gave his life for you but can you love your neighbor enough to at least have the respect to call them by their preferred name? And yes the First Amendment gives you the "freedom" to call someone anything you want but calling someone something other than their preferred name is just an a-hole thing to do because the intent is once again to isolate and alienate rather than include and bring together.
I could continue but I hope you get the point. In conclusion please make our schools an inclusive environment where all kids feel safe and can thrive both academically and personally.