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  11:33 pm
Commenter: Anonymous

I strongly oppose the proposed 2022 Model Policies

The proposed 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools must be rescinded. The 2022 Model Policies endangers the lives of transgender children by ignoring the guidance of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Psychological Association and National Association of School Psychologists. Consequently, the 2022 Model Policies increase the risk of suicide in transgender children.

The 2022 Model Policies ignore AAP policy and remove protections for transgender students, and as a result will interfere in the treatment plans established between students, supportive parents, and their doctors. This could then negatively affect the mental health of transgender students and increase their risk of suicide. The AAP promotes a gender-affirmative care model for transgender children [1]. According to the AAP, “gender affirmation among adolescents with gender dysphoria often reduces the emphasis on gender in their lives, allowing them to attend to other developmental tasks, such as academic success, relationship building, and future-oriented planning.” In addition to giving transgender children the ability to focus on their academic performance, gender-affirmative support from family can reduce the risk of suicide. According to a study of transgender adolescents from the Journal of Adolescent Health, children with strongly supportive parents had a 4% rate of suicide attempts, while children with unsupportive parents had a suicide attempt rate as high as 60% [2]. Support via clearly defined, supportive school policies also reduce the risk to transgender students. According to the AAP, “A lack of explicit policies that protected youth who identified as [transgender] was associated with increased reported victimization, with more than half of students who identified as LGBTQ reporting verbal harassment because of their gender expression” [1]. By removing protections for transgender students, the 2022 Model Policies could increase harassment and bullying of transgender children and increase their risk of suicide. 

The 2021 Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools provided the protections required to support transgender children. The 2021 document provided clear, comprehensive policies based on guidance from experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association and National Association of School Psychologists, and the Journal of School Psychology. The 2021 Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia's Public Schools ensured the health and safety of transgender children, and must be upheld.


[1] American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Policy Statement: Ensuring Comprehensive Care and Support for Trasngender and Gender-Diverse Children and Adolescents, October 2018.

[2] McConnell?EA, Birkett?M, Mustanski?B. Families matter: social support and mental health trajectories among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.?J Adolesc Health. 2016;59(6):674–680[]

CommentID: 202872