I urge you to revise the proposed VDOE draft model policies for the treatment of transgender students due to the extensive potential for damaging effects to both students and faculty.
First, our schools are a place where all students are to feel safe and welcome, providing them a healthful place to learn and grow into citizens that are able to contribute to society. This policy would facilitate and encourage the practice of lying and misinformation within the family unit - the unit we as a society work so hard to maintain! By withholding extremely important information about students from the people who love them most, it builds distrust and fosters the practice of lying. It actively prohibits parents from having open communication with their children, breaking down relationships and trust. Additionally, it requires faculty to be intentionally dishonest with parents, undermining the vital parent-teacher relationship and imbuing it with distrust. (Per “School divisions will need to consider the health and safety of the student in situations where students may not want their parents to know about their transgender status … There are no regulations requiring school staff to notify a parent or guardian of a student’s request to affirm their gender identity...” (Recommended Standard, p.12) And also, “School staff should be prepared to support the safety and welfare of transgender students when their families are not affirming. (Recommended Standard, p. 13))
Second, this policy would undermine the safety and health of students by opening vulnerable places - like locker rooms and bathrooms - up to students and staff of the opposite sex with no limitation. Since the current definition of gender identity as outlined in this standard is completely subjective, both students and faculty could change their gender identity to exploit vulnerable situations, without substantiating evidence or minimum duration, according to the Recommended Standard. Our society has fought valiantly for years to establish women's rights, prevent rape and molestation, and foster protections for the vulnerable, all with the goal of providing a safe and conducive learning environment in public schools.
The Recommended Standard prioritizes transgender rights, superseding the rights and protections for cisgendered individuals and their family units. It undermines the family unit by fostering a dishonest school-home environment, encouraging students to be dishonest with parental figures, and requiring faculty to lie to parents when discussing the student. Ongoing evidence of gender selection is not required, according to the Recommended Standard, opening doors to opportunities for abuse, molestation and impropriety for all students and prohibiting faculty from providing protection to those in harm's way. The Recommended Standard prohibits a safe and conducive learning/educational environment for all students and faculty.
I urge you to revise these standards to provide protections for both trans and cis gendered students.