Agencies | Governor
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.
Previous Comment     Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
2/3/21  6:48 pm
Commenter: Maria Keffler, Arlington Parent Coalition & Partners for Ethical Care

Hard NO Re. Statewide Transgender Students Policy
 

If this policy is adopted by the state of Virginia, then the state of Virginia will be endorsing, protecting, and participating in child abuse.

This policy is boilerplated from GLSEN's Model School District Policy (https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/2019-10/GLSEN-Model-School-District-Policy-Transgender-Gender-Nonconforming-Students.pdf), which special-interest activists, with a financial and political interest in furthering one minority's priorities over the rights and protections of everyone else, are pushing into schools via bullying, manipulation, and deception. 

GLSEN's Model School District Policy offers exactly three citations of "research support" for its unethical, unsound, and unsafe mandates. Two of these references are based solely on small-sample, self-selected surveys, rather than data gathered from robust research. Furthermore, two of GLSEN's three references originated with GLSEN. This smacks boldly of the same strategy utilized by tobacco companies, wherein they hired "researchers" to study the effects of nicotine, then announced that nicotine is not harmful. The contracted "researchers" were told ahead of time what results Big Tobacco wanted, and these hired hands complied. We know now that the entire "study" was nothing but a well-financed lie. GLSEN is operating from the very same playbook.

There is no robust research to support the so-called "Affirmation-Only" response to gender-confused children. There is no valid, adequate research to support claims that gender-confused children will commit suicide if they are not affirmed in their delusions. The "study" that is cited to support this spurious assertion makes a great number of quantitative and assumptive errors (https://www.dailysignal.com/2018/09/18/new-study-on-transgender-teen-suicide-doesnt-prove-kids-need-gender-transition-therapy/).

Even the World Professional Association on Transgender Health indicates on p. 11 of their Standards of Care document (https://www.wpath.org/media/cms/Documents/SOC%20v7/Standards%20of%20Care%20V7%20-%202011%20WPATH.pdf?_t=1605186324) that 77-94% of children will align with their birth sex if allowed to pass through puberty naturally (without puberty blockers, wrong-sex hormones, or surgery).

If the organization considered the be the leader in transgender health care does not encourage the social or medical transition of pre-pubescent children, why would anyone else do so? Why would the state of Virginia, and school districts throughout the commonwealth, put into place policies that encourage children to attempt to transition to a different sex? Why would teachers, counselors, and administrators be encouraged to lie to children's parents, as these policies blatantly do?

These policies, already being enacted in school districts around the country, defy the Family Education Rights & Protection Act (FERPA), which affirms parents' rights to know everything about their children that the school knows.

By what possible legal standard, then, do organizations like the American School Counselor Association tell school counselors "When contacting the parent/guardian of a transgender or gender-nonconforming student, school staff should use the student’s legal name and the pronoun corresponding to the student’s assigned sex at birth, unless the student or parent/guardian has specified otherwise." (https://www.schoolcounselor.org/Standards-Positions/Position-Statements/ASCA-Position-Statements/The-School-Counselor-and-Transgender-Gender-noncon)? This statement puts all of the authority for a child's wellbeing into the hands of the child and the counselor, because the parents cannot know about their child's alternate gender-identity unless the child has authorized the counselor and school to reveal it.

At what age is a child ready to assume such responsibility for him or herself? The age of majority in the United States is 18. According to FERPA the parents have authority over the child's school records until s/he turns 18. How does the state of Virginia rationalize overturning FERPA in this matter?

This policy flies in the face of parental rights, and gives the school greater authority over children than the parents have.

This policy undermines Title IX, granting girls the right to same-sex spaces and same-sex competition in sports.

How will the state determine who is transgender? What is the litmus test or standard for that? This policy makes self-identification the only standard. In Utah this week a boy entered the girls bathroom at school and told a girl that was uncomfortable with his presence that he's a girl now. He wasn't and he isn't. (https://www.partnersforethicalcare.com/post/but-this-never-happens-happens-all-the-time)

Here are more questions I have about this policy. Until each of these can be answered in a way that insures that protections and rights of every student will be addressed and protected, this policy should be torn up and thrown away:

1. What is a transgender student? How is a transgender student identified? Is a transgender student someone who has begun to transition medically? hormonally? socially? Can someone be labeled "transgender" simply by self-identifying as such? Who diagnoses a student as transgender? Is it the student, or a teacher, counselor, or other staff member? If a student can self-diagnose for gender identity, can a student also self-diagnose other conditions, such as dyslexia, autism, trans-racial identity, Tourrettes Syndrome, or PTSD?

2. What is a gender-neutral bathroom? Is it a room that has had the male/female signs removed? Is it a single-user bathroom? Is it a bathroom with stall walls floor to ceiling? How will bathrooms be brought into compliance with gender-neutral status? What is the budget for that? If single-user bathrooms are stigmatizing to transgender students why would they not also be stigmatizing to non-transgender students? Why is it acceptable to ask a non-transgender student to use a single-user bathroom if it is NOT acceptable to ask a transgender student to use it? 

3. What is a gender-neutral dress code? Can girls still wear skirts or dresses? Can boys wear them? What about for swimwear for swimming units? If boys are allowed to be bare-chested, will girls also be allowed (required?) to be bare-chested? Or will both boys and girls be required to cover their chests? 

4. Who is the final authority on which students room together on overnight trips? Is it the students? The parents? The school? Who is liable if something happens to a student who is rooming with students of the opposite sex? If a girl is assaulted or raped, who will be held responsible for that? 

5. If the school has the right to decide what parents know about their children's sexuality or gender, is the school then responsible for that student's health and well-being? If a child harms him- or herself, or commits suicide, and it is discovered that the school withheld information from the child's parents about that child's mental and/or physical health, will the school be held responsible for that child's illness and/or death? 

6. With respect to sports teams and girls' protected spaces, how does this policy NOT violate Title IX mandates? Although legislators are wrestling with whether or not to change "biological sex" to "gender identity", Title IX still holds that differences exist between the biological sexes. Doesn't this policy, which allows biological boys access to girls' spaces and sports teams, violate federal law and the Dillon rule in this case?

7. With respect to pronouns, and given the fact that transgender activists now claim that there are infinite pronoun options (and in fact, people can invent their own pronouns at will) how will teachers be expected to remember the preferred pronouns (and all those pronouns' conjugations) for up to 30 different students in each class? What will be the consequence to the teacher for making an error? What will be the procedure for ensuring that teachers have clearly received adequate communication about students' new pronouns? What recourse will a teacher have if s/he is, for example, first told that a student wants to be called "they/them/themselves" but at a later date the student changes to "ze/zir/zirin", but does not inform the teacher of the change? What if the student claims to have informed the teacher, but the teacher claims not to have been informed? How will that conflict be resolved?

8. Returning to the question of self-identity, if a student can change his or her gender of record at will, can a student also change his or her ethnic/race status at will? Why or why not? How will accurate demographic data be maintained if a student changes from one gender to another mid-year? What will be the procedure for tracking students across years if names and/or genders are changed? 

9. Who will designate the consequences and/or repercussions against staff or students who fail to comply with this PIP's mandates? How will breaches of compliance be identified? What will be the criteria for determining whether a breach is an accident or an example of harassment, such as when the wrong pronoun is used? Who will have the authority to carry out consequences for failure to comply?

Rethink this policy and your reasons for suggesting it. This policy is nothing but a disaster for children and families.

CommentID: 96134