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  10:59 pm
Commenter: Katelyn O'Brien

I Fully Oppose this Policy and the Abuse It Endorses

I am a transgender woman from Newport News, Virginia, and I oppose this proposed draft Model Policies for the harm which it will cause trans and gender non-conforming children. The proponents of this policy would have us understand that this policy is about parental rights, because apparently parents MUST be informed of their children expressing any gender non-conformity, almost as if high rates of abuse by parents aren't heavily documented in response to this. 


In spite of being raised in a generally loving family who better understands me now, in my own childhood, I still remember the screaming of my older siblings as I was thrashed severely with a belt at the age of SIX, thereby destroying my trust in adults regarding this inherent part of myself. 


Though it is what many parents still will try, transgender was not something that could be beaten out of me, but that experience at six years old was not the end of my trauma related to having a sense of no one whom I could even speak to about it.


When I was thirteen I bought clothing at a local store. I was seen by an older person involved in my scout troop, who then intimidated me with that on a camping trip, used it to silence me, and molested me.


I did not feel I could safely discuss feelings about my gender with any adults, and that was used to victimize me further. 


The further social isolation this policy creates for gender non-conforming children from safe adults, like guidance counselors, for fear of being outed makes them more vulnerable to predation and grooming, not less so.


It is important to safety that children have someone whom they can actually confide in, but a lot of people obviously do not care about the safety of trans children, who they constantly imply, as young children, would take on social stigma and use feminine expression just to prey on girls. Such assertions as that are not in keeping with statistics, and yet transgender children on the other hand are regularly preyed upon all the time by an adult population which not only lacks understanding, but constantly spreads fear and hatred through regular vilification in the media.


Not everyone who says, "I've done my research," is a subject matter expert when contradicting wide consensuses, based on peer reviewed studies, from psychologists, sociologists, neurobiologists, endocrinologists, and pediatricians regarding ethical and safe policy in relation to transgender people in this country.


I oppose this draconian "Model Policy" for the trauma that I went through, and that other transgender and gender non-conforming children will even more often continue to be exposed to, for how this policy will socially isolate these children who have been sexualized with these false scenarios constantly conjured up to attack these CHILDREN just for being different.


Katelyn O'Brien

Newport News, VA



CommentID: 202692