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  10:33 pm
Commenter: Jennifer Miller

Strongly Oppose

As a teacher and parent of a trans child, I vehemently oppose the 2022 model. School should be a safe haven where children are educated, cared for, fed, and looked out for. It is often the only safe place a child has. Transgender and nonbinary children absolutely deserve this same safety and caring. 

Forcibly outing children and refusing to use their name and pronouns is nothing more than bigotry at its finest and has no place in our schools. We don't allow teachers to discriminate against any other facet of children's lives and their gender identity should be no different.  Discrimination of any kind should not be tolerated in Virginia's schools.

A teacher's religion has no bearing on what they do in the classroom. They cannot talk about their beliefs, shame children for not believing as they do, or force their beliefs on their students. Trans and nonbinary students have the same right to not have a teacher force their religious beliefs on them. If a teacher cannot use a student's chosen name because of their religion, then they have no business in a public school classroom. Teachers have the choice to be there, transgender and nonbinary students do not.

We have been so fortunate that students and staff alike have been so supportive of our daughter as she made her transition. Every staff member she has encountered has respected her as a person by calling her by her preferred name and pronouns. Every child that enters a Virginia public school deserves this same respect. The 2022 Model affords them none.

CommentID: 202540