SUPPORT Model Policy for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools.
Over my lifetime (77 years next month), I have been blessed with opportunities to expand my understanding of human development and human nature, through both my formal education and my personal experience. I was well into my adult life before I learned that one of my beloved high school teachers had suffered shame and humiliation from family members and local police, simply because he occasionally would be "caught" dressed as a woman. It still breaks my heart to know he did not live to see the day when he would have found support from enlightened family members and friends.
When I learned also that several high school friends had suffered enormously from the homophobic and transphobic culture in which we were raised, and that one had been suicidal, I felt morally compelled to re-examine all that I had been taught, or assumptions I had absorbed without examination. That long and sometimes painful process enabled, finally, to reject the ignorance that had blinded me to the cruelty and injustice that prevented people I had known and cared about, from enjoying the respect and freedom they deserved. In the early 1990s, I met and have remained friends with a number of transgender women, and recall fondly my acquaintance with several transgender men, all of whom found the courage and support to have lived proudly as members of the gender with which they identify. I simply cannot imagine any of them having been forced to live otherwise.
But I also came to understand the courage and the cost, as well as the joys and rewards, of their respective decisions to live authentic lives. My own life has been enriched by knowing them. And it is clear to me that our community benefits from their talents and gifts. I am convinced that NO ONE should be denied the opportunity to live authentically, and that those who would deny such an opportunity are misguided, to say the least.
Knowing that there are many who will object to this Model Policy, and to the respect that it offers to ALL students, I can only hope that those with the power to implement the policy will do so with the courage and commitment that all human rights endeavors require. And I will hope that in time, those who object will find, hopefully soon, that their misgivings were indeed unfounded.