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  11:06 pm
Commenter: Stacy Huh


I am ABSOLUTELY horrified at the details outlined in the 2022 Model Policies for VA public schools. 

The very premise is incorrect - not all parents are actually in the best position to work with their children to determine their names, nicknames, pronouns, social transition, or gender expression. They got to choose the child's name at birth, and were informed of their assigned sex at birth. That has nothing to do with a child's growing and evolving gender expression and identity.  

Many parents are simply ill-informed about the detriments of forbidding a (transgender/nonbinary) child to socially transition as they navigate their gender identity. They are operating out of traditional beliefs that have not been thoroughly reexamined and updated based on science and research. Most religions have evolved to include an LGBT-inclusive and affirming theology/belief system. But ill-informed conservative and concerned parents hold to their beliefs even at the cost of their child's mental health, and sometimes, death. 

As for schools notifying parents of the gender-related social details about their children - this is very, very dangerous for a student who is navigating their gender identity and lives under the roof of parents who will be outraged at them for exploring. Plenty of parents enforce very strict rules, that when broken, lead to unimaginable violence behind closed doors. Schools notifying parents are giving some parents the signal to abuse their children in the name of religious and conservative beliefs. Parents do not have the right to abuse their children - child abuse is illegal everywhere, and this policy stands diametrically opposed to the goal of protecting children. 

And parents are not always wise and correct when it comes to what is actually good for their children. Young people with gender dysphoria and a genuine desire to navigate their personal identity and their place in the world need a safe space. For fortunate children, that safe space is home, but for many others, it is at a school that is affirming and protective of the student's whole journey. 

If parents want to insist on their parental rights - they should know that they have every right to pull their children out of a public education and put them in a private institution that mirrors their conservative beliefs.  (I personally feel sorry for children who would be put in that kind of environment, and would much rather see parents learn and evolve in their understanding of gender.) Parents also have a right to move to a more traditional area in the state, rather than insist on imposing their outdated beliefs onto the whole state, including urban multicultural areas where many have evolved in their understanding of gender.

Public education policies should be based on reliable scientific data rather than the loud voices of conservative and "concerned" parents. If anything, many parents would benefit from a public forum that would educate them on the research of today, so they could learn how important it is to affirm a young person's gender identity and expression. 

Bottom line - I am STRONGLY OPPOSED to the 2022 Model Policies set forth by the governor and the league of "concerned" parents. 

CommentID: 202724