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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10/26/22  11:24 pm
Commenter: V. Reed

Proposed "Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for all..." is wrong

I oppose the Governor’s ill-advised “Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for all Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools” which actually assails the rights of students, parents, and educators.  It ignores the legitimate rights of students to express their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about themselves, and to trust that the educators and advisors in their schools will have their interests at heart and keep the confidence that the children placed in them to help them weather the turbulence of issues that they may be facing.  No child should have to hide who they are, who they are becoming, or what they want for their own lives.  Parents should be respected to pursue medical and psychological counseling for their children without worrying that the state will interfere.  And employees of all school systems in Virginia should be assured that they can continue to teach, support, and interact with children and their parents in ways that have the best interests of the child at the forefront of their efforts, without being required to “out” a child.  

Bullying should be condemned and addressed with disciplinary action. Mis-gendering a child or a child’s loved ones should be a cause for disciplinary action, whether committed by another student, a teacher, advisor, coach or administrator.

Respect for a member of the LGBTQ+ community should be a given. Privacy for a child to explore, express, and mature in a way that will give them joy in being alive should be celebrated. The number of lives lost to suicide will be reduced by such actions by all citizens of the Commonwealth.

The Governor should not enact this policy.

CommentID: 202820