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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
Guidance Document Change: The Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools guidance document was developed in response to House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161, enacted by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly, which directed the Virginia Department of Education to develop and make available to each school board model policies concerning the treatment of transgender students in public elementary and secondary schools. These guidelines address common issues regarding transgender students in accordance with evidence-based best practices and include information, guidance, procedures, and standards relating to: compliance with applicable nondiscrimination laws; maintenance of a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students; prevention of and response to bullying and harassment; maintenance of student records; identification of students; protection of student privacy and the confidentiality of sensitive information; enforcement of sex-based dress codes; and student participation in sex-specific school activities, events, and use of school facilities.
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1/6/21  12:46 pm
Commenter: Susan Hastings

Former Public School Teacher saying good goal to protect ALL students-BUT NOT AT OTHERS' PERIL!

It would seem as though our school board has forgotten the heart of the issue here: the safety and care of ALL people within the walls of our educational system. As a former public school teacher, I recognize the need to protect and consider each and every student...but there should NOT be in place any rule/law/directive that outlines the favorable treatment for some that actually can endanger others.

The transgender community may be on the rise in numbers and have been the victims of cruelty and misunderstanding--every student should feel as though the school environment is a place of safety and welcome, otherwise they will be unable to learn--but, have we considered the ultimate ramifications of such a countywide decision?? Rather than take the rare situation on a case-by-case basis, these broad brushstrokes painted across the landscape of teaching (which is already challenging enough) will make it virtually impossible for a teacher to navigate a minefield from day to day that should NOT be their primary concern (which is the well-rounded, successful imparting of knowledge and grasping of skills to their classroom)! If these premises were in place when I was teaching, I would have found it virtually impossible to NOT bring the law down on my own head, even inadvertently, as I would be greatly moved and troubled by other non-transgendered students feeling as though their privacy and rights to peace and safety in their learning environment were being trampled, ignored, and compromised!   Why, just the proposed bathroom and locker room situation ALONE would be enough to alarm anyone! Reflecting on my many years of teaching experience, I PLEAD you to consider the potential misuses of these edicts schoolwide! Elementary school children--who may seem the most innocent--will easily use the awkwardness of hearing a child claim varying gender changes of identification from day to day, correcting teachers for the misuse of a pronoun in reference to that student, etc., to either boost their advantage of wasting a teacher's precious classtime and/or target a child who may need extra attention or guidance in addressing their struggles or confusions. This only HIGHLIGHTS AND INCREASES the chances for abuse and misuse of the exact behavior we are trying to protect and care for! Middle and high school students (of which I have taught thousands!) are the most susceptible of all to capitalize on the opportunities these proposals set forth , potentially enabling (rather than discouraging) voyeurism in opposite sex bathrooms/locker rooms, indecency/immodesty in sporting situations (e.g., allowing for inappropriate dress and exposure), the easy opportunity to manipulate the system and "trap" a teacher into disciplinary action by the school system simply because they do not like a teacher--or his/her methods--or wish to delay testing or assignments, etc.! Elevating this issue in such fashion is a recipe for disaster and should be seen as actually HEIGHTENING THE DANGER for the vast & overwhelming majority (99%+) of non-transgendered children, rather than helping to increase sensitivity, safety, and protection for less than 1% of our student population! If approved, the precedent that these proposed measures will set is that ANY particular or unique case can raise more than awareness, but actually incite an entire school district to favor their situation, make new rules and restrictions (even upon penalty and punishment to those whose under-venerated, -appreciated, and -paid position is already challenging enough: our honorable teachers), and influence our county to make forced accommodations that profoundly affect the many in order to pacify the few. PLEASE DO NOT FALL FOR THE FOLLY!!!

There are ways of ensuring the oppressed and attacked are protected, considered, and nurtured alongside those who do not share such victimization WITHOUT COMPROMISING THE ENTIRE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF PUBLIC SCHOOL!!! To endanger the majority for the purpose of consideration and caring for a slim minority is FOOLISHNESS, and needs to be called so! There ought not be a need to create such "laws" or "recommended guidelines" (that, more than suggestions, may cost a hard-working & skilled educator their job now, but also ever-after!) to force people to abide by philosophies, alter behaviors, and embody attitudes that simply need to be taught, shaped, and guided as ANY SUBJECT A CHILD NEEDS TO LEARN IN SCHOOL...THAT'S WHY THE LAW MANDATES THAT THEY BE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!! SENSITIVITY & KINDNESS CANNOT BE FORCED...and, sadly, these proposals are all too easily abused and misused for personal gain, rather than to foster the heart they are meant to convert, from discriminating into accommodating and accepting. Although attention and care need to be given to this cross-section of our student body, the same could be said for those struggling with acceptance and accommodation for differences in appearance, custom, costume, hygiene, academic capability, religion, handicap,...the list could go on that targets a child for bullying and cruelty! Bullying of any nature (including hate speech, violence, ostracization & social exclusion, etc.) needs to be the subject under scrutiny, not the sex/gender issue over others! None should be tolerated in the least to ensure a safe, pleasant, inviting, and relaxing learning environment FOR EVERY STUDENT, regardless the issue for targeting!! Creating accommodations specific to one group like this IS ACTUALLY A FORM OF DISCRIMINATION IN ITSELF!!! One may not grasp this until the focus is widened to see how INSULTING it is to call out only this ONE group of targeted unkindness! It will not be long before other groups who feel victimized seek to create their own set of laws schoolwide and on and on until it has become impossible to both please everyone AND teach all content areas to a class at the same time!

I URGE you to reconsider pushing this targeted agenda and, instead, institute countywide strategies and objectives for achieving bully-free classroom & extracurricular environments FOR EVERY STUDENT!!! Thank you for taking time to consider your TEACHERS, and not only your STUDENTS, as well. 

CommentID: 88618