Support for the Model Policies for Transgender Students in VA Public Schools
As a nonbinary Virginian who attended VA public schools throughout my educational career, I am writing in support of the Model Policies on the Treatment of Transgender Students, because I believe all students should have equal access to education where they can thrive and reach their full potential.
I had very little guidance or support for exploring my identities within the LGBTQ+ community when I was a high school student. Having explicit policies that acknowledged the existence of nonbinary and transgender identities and provide guidance on how to address the specific needs of nonbinary and transgender students would have meant the world to me and several of my peers at that age. By providing guidance to teachers and staff, it will be easier to create an inclusive environment consistently for all students in all schools, rather than having to hope for and rely upon the select few teachers who have personal connections or are exceptionally forward-thinking to take on the extra work of advocating for their transgender and nonbinary students.
GLSEN's 2019 National School Climate Survey shows that transgender and nonbinary students feel less safe at school and miss school more often because of feeling unsafe compared to their cisgender peers. Transgender and nonbinary students also report higher rates of victimization and discrimination than their peers, especially regarding respect for their names and pronouns and access to bathrooms and locker rooms. Transgender and nonbinary students should feel safe and included in their learning communities.
No one deserves to be bullied, harassed, or discriminated against in their school, which is a place where they are supposed to be able to learn and be a part of a community that accepts them for who they are. Schools teach students how to succeed but they also teach students how to treat each other. This proposed rule will make Virginia schools a better place to learn for transgender and nonbinary students, which creates a better learning environment for all. Thank you for your commitment to ensuring safe and welcoming schools for all Virginia students.