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  11:12 pm
Commenter: Kerry B

Changes to the 2022 Model Policies

This proposal leaves me concerned about the education of our lawmakers. The name-dropping of constitutional amendments without relevance or a full grasp of their contents was wildly inappropriate and did not grant the proposal the legitimacy that might have been intended. Empowering parents is not a right, it is a tertiary goal made largely unnecessary by the ability of parents to choose what district they live in and whether or not their children attend a private or charter school. It is wonderful when parents get involved, but that does not give them the right to dictate educational policies to professionals and the student body at large. I would direct your attention to The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which emphasizes the rights of children and the responsabilities of adults towards them. I believe the safety and wellbeing of a child supercedes the hurt feelings of an adult, particularly given the inherent power imbalance. A child can suffer bodily or mental harm from ignoring their identies or disclosing information without their consent. And that is not acceptable. America is intended to be a nation for all people, as the 14th amendment does clarify, which includes trans people and those of other gender identities than the norm. It would be un-American and unconscionable to enshrine policies that go against that fundamental ideal. 

CommentID: 202756