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  10:51 pm
Commenter: FB

Object/ please keep 2021 guidelines and our schools a safe place for our LBGTQ and all students

There are many places to object here but I will keep my comments to some of the most fundamental.

This change is advertised as a change to give parents more control over their children’s education and decisions made on how to handle those controversial pieces.

But it has long been the schools job To prioritize the students. Their safety their will being, and their education. 

If uneducated parents wish their children to learn falsehoods because that’s all they know, it is but the schools job to comply, but to serve those children and the greater society by teaching them correct facts, history, science, math…  do they can make the future world better. 

As for safety, schools are legally obligated to protect students — even if they are protecting them from their parents. So saying that parents have the last say is disingenuous. If a teacher sees evidence of physical or psychological abuse they are obligated to report it. For transgender, or other LBGTQ students, abuse or the threat of abuse can be more common if the parents are not supportive. In this case outing a student to their parents even under the guise of trying to protect them, can be actively throwing a child into an abusive situation intensified by the school if not created by it. If abuse occurs, the school would not only be legally obligated to report said abuse, they would be a co-conspirator in it.


This is effort and the lengths it goes to is more heinous when you realize that something as simple as allowing a child the freedom, in the safe space of a classroom, to go by name that they prefer and be themselves away from their parents, is actually something that we do for most of our students in most cases already. Since my children have been in school, teachers have been asking what their preferred name is. Not all children go by their first name, not all first names are easily pronounceable, and there’ are so many other reasons a child might choose a nickname or some other name to go by. There is no reason to deny our transgender students this option or require parental consent or to make it a public ordeal. Or even tell parents what they like to be called. My son asked to be called a different random name for a year and a half when he was young. Teachers took it in stride. They could do it for our LBGTQ children too. 


I’ve never seen a teacher refuse to take into account a child’s preferred method of being addressed until this. If it is a simple thing that the schools and the teachers can do for a child who may not have the Safetynet or support at home to be who they need to be. By supporting children in this small way we make them feel safe and their learning improves.

There is so much evidence that this is true that it seems incredible we are debating it. 

The policies set out in 2021 benefit all our kids, as well as society, not just those who are addressed in this document. Showing all of our children that gender identity or even gender all together, is not anyone’s sole identifying trait, and that when we allow students to be who they are, and take the weight of hiding it or trying to be something they’re not, we free them to excel in all sorts of areas. We allow them to focus on school better, to make friends easier, to be more comfortable with themselves and their surroundings… and we show those kids as well as all of the others, that we are all valuable, and capable of contributing great things to society. The small act of accommodating these differences and protecting those students who need it, shows all of our kids that we care about them, that we will protect them as well regardless of gender regardless of orientation, regardless of race or religion. This is a world that we strive for or should strive for — a better one than the one in which we live. 

Please, for all of our children, continue to use the more compassionate, safe path laid out in 2021. And continue to strive to connect families and encourage parental inclusion in ways that do not put our students at greater risks.    

CommentID: 202640