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  10:34 pm
Commenter: Brian Krezel

Proposed Policy Is Dangerous

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.

Best regards,

Brian Krezel

CommentID: 202548