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  11:27 pm
Commenter: Parent and teacher

Devil in the Details

Appendix 1, (D)(6) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (4) of this section, [School Division] shall not compel [School Division] personnel or other students to address or refer to students in any manner that would violate their constitutionally protected rights.

The parent should ask...

Is this saying that I can’t compel a teacher to call my child by their preferred pronoun because the teacher’s first amendment rights, and in this case their personal ideological beliefs, take precedent over mine as a parent? So, if a teacher’s religious belief is that females are subservient to males, then we, the parents, don’t have the right to expect that the teacher treats our female children equally to our male children because that expectation violates the teacher's personal religious beliefs? Does this by extension also allow teachers to practice their first amendment free speech by asserting their ideological beliefs on my child in the classroom? I thought we are trying to take ideological beliefs out of the classroom.

From my teacher perspective...

By supporting this provision, you have just given my ideological beliefs precedent over your child's and by extension those of you the parent. If my religious beliefs see females as subservient to males, then you can’t compel me treat your female child equally to my male students because it is against my personal religious beliefs and being forced to do so violates my constitutionally protected rights. It may seem sweet when it favors your personal ideological beliefs, but it can easily turn against you. As an educator, best practice in the classroom is to keep my ideological beliefs to myself. Do you agree? If so, oppose this nonsense.

CommentID: 202842