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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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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1/19/21  1:50 pm
Commenter: Jess Norris-Khawaja

Strongly Support/ School Administrator, Science Teacher

Schools have two jobs, to protect the health and safety of students (first and foremost) and to educate. Any new policy needs to be in support of these priorities. As someone who has worked with youth and children for the past 15 years in the classroom, and as a school administrator, it is readily apparent that supporting a person's identity/expression/sense of self is central to safety (mental and physical health) and education (school attendance, performance, and learning). It's also apparent that restricting identity is harmful to youth development and counter to basic human rights. 


Anecdotally, I have had many, many experiences with children and families where confirming and reaffirming gender identity and expression is the difference between life and great harm or even death. In one case a teacher reported to a family that their student was changing clothes and dressing M-F when they arrived at school. The family was not supportive to the point of physically assaulting the child when they learned about the clothing switch. Cases like this are not few and far between. Schools are safe spaces and need to remain so in order to protect the lives of children-where else do children go when their family and, often, spiritual lives reject who they are-sometimes to the point of physical harm? It is vital that we create a school culture that supports diversity and inclusion instead of teaching children to reject each other based on their inherent identities.

Lastly, the positive impact of diverse gender-affirming practices in schools is statistically significant. Higher matriculation rates, test scores, attrition, and attendance correlate with inclusive practices. Higher attrition and matriculation directly correlates with better mental and physical health throughout life. Currently, LGBTQ youth account for 40% of the youth homeless population and only 10% of the total population. Everything in our power as citizens and educators needs to be done to fix this. We are responsible for the safety, well being, and education above anything else




CommentID: 90776