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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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Department of Education
Guidance Document Change: The Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools guidance document was developed in response to House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161, enacted by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly, which directed the Virginia Department of Education to develop and make available to each school board model policies concerning the treatment of transgender students in public elementary and secondary schools. These guidelines address common issues regarding transgender students in accordance with evidence-based best practices and include information, guidance, procedures, and standards relating to: compliance with applicable nondiscrimination laws; maintenance of a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students; prevention of and response to bullying and harassment; maintenance of student records; identification of students; protection of student privacy and the confidentiality of sensitive information; enforcement of sex-based dress codes; and student participation in sex-specific school activities, events, and use of school facilities.
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1/11/21  11:55 am
Commenter: Bridget Lamb, Chesterfield County Public Schools

Strongly Support This Proposal
 

Hello,

Thank you for this proposal. As a school counselor, I have witnessed the difference in outcomes for transgender students when they are supported and affirmed at school compared to when they are not. Equitable access to education is a right for all students, and these proposed changes will help ensure that students feel supported at school and thus motivated to attend and engage in learning. 

I particularly appreciate the proposal for school boards to develop a way for students' true gender (not necessarily the one assigned at birth) and chosen name to be displayed prominently in their records. When educators look up a student in the system, chosen name and true gender must be featured so as to avoid unintentionally misgendering and alienating the student. Educators who are resistant to calling students by their chosen name should be encouraged to view it similarly to students who use nicknames instead of their legal name: if nicknames are acceptable, then so are transgender students' chosen names. Refusal to comply with the student's request to be called by a name other than their legal name should be viewed as a malicious attempt to prohibit the student from obtaining an equitable education. 

I also appreciated the ideas around how to compromise with parents who do not want their student's gender identity to be affirmed. The example given in which educators compromise with parents by using the student's legal name and pronouns in communication with parents and using the student's chosen name and pronouns in the classroom and school milieu may be one way to support students while also working respectfully with parents who are not initially accepting of their student's identity. 

All in all, a lot needs to change on a policy level in order for Virginia schools to be equitable for all students. This proposal is one step in the right direction towards making that happen.

CommentID: 89445