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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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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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2/3/21  9:42 pm
Commenter: Rachel

Strong Support from Pediatrician/Child Health Advocate
 
The mission of VDOE is to advance equitable and innovative learning. EQUITABLE. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that "Transgender and gender-diverse children face many challenges in life, but, like all children, they can grow into happy and healthy adults when supported and loved throughout their development."  Furthermore, making civil rights accommodations for transgender students is a life or death issue. "While the data is limited, population-based surveys estimate that 0.7 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 identify as transgender, according to the report. In this rapidly evolving clinical field, physicians play a role by offering a safe and inclusive place for transgender and gender-diverse youth, who have high rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorderssubstance use, self-harm and suicide.  Children who are supported by their parents and family are more likely to experience better physical and mental health, according to the AAP. In one study, 56 percent of youth who identified as transgender reported thinking about suicide at some point, and 31 percent reported a previous suicide attempt. That compares, respectively, to 20 percent and 11 percent of youth who identify as cisgender, a term to describe a person who identifies a gender consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth."
It is essential for our schools to be a safe haven for transgender students, many of whom lack support at home. While some parents may speak out against this non-discrimination policy, it is critical for the Virginia Department of Education to stand firm with the facts, the science, and the ethical mandate. Education is not a democracy. Best practices are not a democracy. The vision of VDOE is to maximize the potential of all learners, this requires protecting ALL learners from discrimination.  Trans minors should be afforded every protection from the adults in their communities who may not otherwise understand or support them. 
CommentID: 96677