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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Agency
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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1/18/21  9:24 am
Commenter: Anonymous Parent

Oppose Transgender Model Policy
 

Although I empathize greatly with the challenges of transgender students, I strongly oppose the DOE’s model policy for several reasons. 

 

First and foremost, regarding school interference in determining gender identity, the recommended standard reads: “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.” A child’s gender and greater identity are intimate and personal. They are not the business of the school or the government. This is a topic and discussion that should rightly be handled within the family unit, and the government (and by extension schools) should not interfere with family business and the personal decisions of students and their family members. It is not the job of the school to impose their viewpoints on such personal matters, and it is certainly the job of the school to communicate personal concerns with family members. Just as a school would have an obligation to communicate to a parent or guardian if a child were experiencing depression, engaging in risky behavior, considering suicide, or demonstrating addictive personality or behaviors, parents should be informed of all substantive issues regarding their children. A student’s gender identity and personal beliefs, thoughts, and worries are between a student and their family, and it rests solely within that boundary lest we continue to give the government more control over our ability to raise, parent, and advise our own children. 

 

Secondly, can you please explain how discipline and consequences for not using correct pronouns will be enforced? I would like additional information on the punitive steps that will be taken against faculty or students who violate the “pronoun” policy. The draft policy reads: “Any incident or complaint of discrimination, harassment, or bullying shall be given prompt attention, including investigating the incident and taking appropriate corrective action, by the school administrator. …The [School Division’s Designated Contact] shall be available to hear concerns from students or parents when complaints are not resolved at the school level.” I oppose this. Parents should be notified immediately if there child is called in for remediation or discipline for violating ANY school policy. Parents should be informed and actively engaged in any disciplinary consequence (short of a verbal warning) the school enforces on their child at any level. Further, the standard implies consequences to the family as well. It reads: “School staff should be prepared to support the safety and welfare of transgender students when their families are not affirming.” What would this look like? Would the school report child abuse if a family was not “affirming” of their child’s proclamation regarding gender identity? Sexual preference and sexual decisions do not belong in the schools; this is not the job or purview of public education. Please keep these topics out of the public school system, and let families handle personal decisions regarding students. I am unsure what qualifies teachers, administrators, superintendents, or even counselors in the school system to have the authority to “help” these children with their decisions without consultation with parents who have birthed these children, raised these children, paid for all their needs and necessities, and cared for them throughout their childhood. There is NO outside authority in this facet of a child’s life but that of the parents. And frankly, whether or not a parent “affirms” a behavior, proclamation, action or stance of their child is of no business to the school. The school, nor any of it’s agents, are not a parent. Period.


Finally, I believe there are major safety and privacy violations that would follow the decision to make bathrooms openly available to both genders. The draft policy requires “Access to facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to a student’s gender identity shall be available to all students.” Further, faculty and students cannot confront a student regarding their entry into the restroom. As an adult woman, I can think of nothing more humiliating, embarrassing, or uncomfortable than being a pubescent girl having to share a bathroom with a biological boy. Although I can’t speak to their experiences, I would imagine boys might also feel the same discomfort in sharing a bathroom with a biological female. I feel like not allowing young ladies their privacy is gender discrimination. Have these recommendations been based on research and data regarding the safety of such decisions? Since bullying and bad behavior often take place in areas within the schools in which teachers have limited access, I would urge you to reconsider putting ANY student (transgender or otherwise) into a situation that might further perpetuate bullying and violence. Why is it not possible to put a single transgender bathroom in schools—much like a family bathroom found at many stores and mall areas? It seems that this would be a better decision to allow transgender students the spaces they need while ensuring the safety and privacy of ALL students. Please don’t make decisions that benefit one population of students to the detriment of all the others.

 

I want every child to have a safe and productive school experience, but I believe this policy does not allow that for ALL students. Thank you for allowing a forum for parents to voice their concerns.

CommentID: 90572