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  11:25 pm
Commenter: Tom Klancer

Vehemently opposed to policy change

This policy (the 2022 revision of "Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools") must not go into effect. It will violate the rights of children to have a safe, supportive school environment that respects their heartfelt expression of self-identity.

All children -- whether they're transgender, cisgender, or merely trying to figure out their place in this world -- have a fundamental right to determine who they become. Parents and guardians play a critical role in helping guide their children in shaping their identities, and while this can be difficult, most families get through it. Unfortunately, some parents, when faced with a child who sees or feels the world differently than they do, refuse to accept their child's self-identity. That can lead to miscommunication, and in severe cases, outright abuse.

Because of this, many transgender children do not feel comfortable coming out to their parents, and this policy will lead to transgender and gender-questioning children dying by suicide. They will feel trapped between parents who they feel do not understand them and a school environment that is legally prohibited from respecting them for who they are. The existing policy was developed to respect both the child's needs and the rights of parents, and must not be thrown away in favor of this cruel policy.

CommentID: 202828