AS A SOCIAL WORKER I FULLY SUPPORT
As a master level social worker in the State of Virginia, I support these model policies for LGBTQ students in Virginia. It is essential that children and youth be able to learn without suffering discrimination or harassment. A recent study found that over 70% of gay or transgender kids received threats because of their identity. According to the Trevor Project LGBTQ youth are FIVE times more liekly to attempt suicide than their heterosexual cisgender peers. I know the reality of these stastics as I currently work with Trans and Non-binary patients accessing gender affirming medical care, many of whom are still in Virginia public schools. I also spent many years working with LGBTQ youth as a volunteer at Side by Side, a non-profit organization in Virginia that creates supportive communities for LGBTQ youth where youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish. Here I also saw the need for Virginia schools to have model policies to protect LGBTQ youth as many of the youth experienced bullying/harassment/ and discrimination.
These policies will promote the critical goal of keeping students safe to the best of our abilities. Schools have a moral and legal obligation to protect their students from this kind of harassment at school. These policies are necessary. The policies lay out how schools can prevent gender-based harassment or address it effectively to support and protect students if harassment occurs. These policies will help transgender students feel safe and respected at school, which is necessary for them to have equal access to education.