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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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1/15/21  5:24 pm
Commenter: Jon Bolena, Woodberry Forest School

Model Policies on the Treatment of Transgender Students.

To whom it may concern,

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 am personally connected to the issue of equal and just treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals. I, myself identify as a cisgender, bisexual male. Before I came out, both to my parents and the public I was as “normal” as can be. I was treated equally. I am now in ninth grade at Woodberry Forest School, a all-boys boarding school in Virginia. After I cam out, I started to feel more alone, more separated from everyone. It disheartens me to see the studies and polls from transgender individuals that they are treated the same way. No one should have to be secluded from their peers, especially not for their gender or lack thereof. We have a student here who identifies as transgender. She is a wonderful person and I am so lucky to have her in my life. Unfortunately, even in our small school she receives hate. She even had to switch roommates because her former one was uncomfortable living with her. This unfair treatment and mindset of distaste is exactly what needs to be remedied especially in public schools. Students should be taught specifically about transgender people and why they should be treated equally and not treated with disrespect. They are our equals, their equals and they should have no different treatment from their cisgender peers. 

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.


Jon M. Bolena

CommentID: 90248