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  11:38 pm
Commenter: A Very Concerned Parent

As a parent I have the right to OPPOSE HATEFUL and ignorant rhetoric such as this proposal

I strongly OPPOSE Younkin’s proposed changed to Virginia’s Department of Education Policy on transgender youth. This opposition is thought based, research based, medically and psychologically based, Christian based, and based in common- sense and basic human decency. To support this bill is to act against all of these.

I am astounded to see the policy makers attempt to legitimize this bill with reference to the 14th amendment. To use this amendment as support for “… 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…” is legally questionable and a significant logical non-sequitur. The ONLY component of the 14th amendment to which this can possibly refer is the statement that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;…” To claim that this part of the amendment speaks only about parents and not the rights of the children involved is to say that children are not citizens at the most generous and not people at the most literal. Ignoring for a moment the horrific actions that can befall children if we begin to think that they are neither human nor citizens, it remains is an abomination for the state’s department of education to think so poorly of the humans which it is in place to serve!

Additionally, our policy makers are supposed to be educated thoughtful individuals who know how to assess fact from fiction and lead though demonstration, NOT ignorance and fear. There is not a single argument against transgender affirmation for children that is backed up by or based in fact. The fear that a transgender female in the girl’s bathroom will endanger female students has been demonstrated baseless repeatedly and with enough longevity of research to disallow any dissenting opinion. The fear that this will allow predatory males to enter these spaces in disguise has likewise been disproven as baseless fear. However, violence against transgender children and their allies has been proven repeatedly. The increased rate of suicide of disaffirmed transgender children and their allies has been proven through research repeatedly. An individuals’ “discomfort” or “inconvenience” at having to learn someone’s pronouns does not remotely equate to the risk of DEATH that our transgender youth experience in the face of adult affirmed hate such as this bill. The idea that having to learn someone’s trans name is “uncomfortable” or “inconvenient” is beyond laughable. Was it so hard to learn that Richard preferred to be called “Dick”? Why should I call Edward “E-dog” because he is more comfortable with it? These are not the names given by their parents. The idea that because they remain “gender appropriate” they are acceptable is mental gymnastics at their finest.

Although I could go on and counter each assertion of this new bill step by step, as could anyone who has read the bill and the research on the subject matter; I know that my arguments will fall on deaf ears interested only in pandering to the fear and hate of the loud and ignorant masses who spew hate instead of the love that Jesus himself mandated we use as the starting point of all of our interactions with other humans. Allow me just to point out, using a favorite phrase of republican’s themselves, this bill presents a slippery slope that threatens to destroy public education in the state of Virginia as well as the safety of all of our children. The delusional belief that a school system can keep children safe while: “Schools shall respect parents’ values and beliefs: Parents have the right to instill in and nurture values and beliefs for their own children and make decisions concerning their children’s education and upbringing in accordance with their customs, faith, and family culture.” What is my family culture is to hate everyone who looks different than I? What if my custom is to disparage everyone else's level of intelligence? What if my faith states that a male can do anything he wants to a female? What if I want my children to learn and practice these atrocities? This paragraph allows me to do so. But, what if my custom, faith and family culture is to accept everyone with love and support and use their pronouns and chosen names and I want my children to learn this? By denying their teachers the right to support transgender students, you are denying me my right to “and make decisions concerning their children’s education and upbringing in accordance with their customs, faith, and family culture.” I decide that my children’s teachers affirm all identities, including transgender peers.

CommentID: 202898