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  11:58 pm
Commenter: Shawn

Trans rights are human rights

I am writing in opposition to the ill-advised, immoral, and illegal educational policies against transgender students. The only thing they are a "model" for is discrimination, cynicism, and pain.

These policies violate Sections 22.1-23.3 of the Virginia Code the and the Virginia Human Rights Act, which, as the chief executive of the state, Youngkin is bound to uphold. It further violates federal Title IX law.

If you implement them, you will be fought. And you. Will. Lose. You will not be good stewards of the educational system if you proceed with implementing them. We will not surrender the gains that have been fought for in this state and around the country in respecting the dignity as human beings of these people, these *children* that he is attacking.

All transgender people are asking for is respect, the right to feel safe in their schools and communities, and the same equal protection under the law as everyone else.

Children can not grow, can not learn, can not thrive, in an environment where they are in danger. These capricious and dangerous policies will put children at risk, full stop. By denying them a supportive and nurturing environment, he would rob them of their mental and physical health, and their potential. This is borne out by study after study, which either he and his ilk don't care to read or simply don't care. About *people*. How can one claim to be a leader when one would callously throw away their lives? These policies will lead to harassment, pain, and in many cases, death.

LGB and especially transgender people are not Glenn Youngkin's pawns to be played in some pathetic attempt at pandering to a far-right base, trying to make it to the White House. And you, Department of Education policy reviewers, are not pawns either. Please, stand up for them. I urge you to strike down these policies.

CommentID: 203014