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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  9:47 pm
Commenter: Concerned VA Educator

Opposed - VDOE needs a reality check
 

The very first thing to note is the names of those on this proposal.  By looking at the job titles or positions, it is clear that the majority of the people who created this document are not in direct contact with students on a daily basis or even in the school environment.  I’m a counselor in VA public schools and I have the opportunity to see how many parts of a school are operated.  My opposition to this policy is simply a reality check on how this will cause more trouble in the schools than the writers of this document probably even acknowledged.

  1. My biggest concern is confidentiality.  The only time I break confidentiality is when a student wants to hurt themselves, hurt someone else, or they are being hurt.  What I could see happening is a student struggling with their gender identity and that being the reason that they are suicidal.  I’m required to inform the parents that their child is suicidal.  However, this policy would prevent me from informing the parents of any part of their child’s mental state if the child does not wish me to tell their parents of their gender identity struggle.  Am I not supposed to help this child?  Am I not supposed to get them the help that they so desperately need?  Any mental health professional knows how important it is to have all the information when trying to treat mental illness.  It’s the same in the medical profession, when you leave out crucial medical information, it can be detrimental to that person’s health.  Side note: schools are not equipped to handle counseling to this degree.  We do not have licensed Psychiatrists’ on our payrolls.  Also, this document notes that schools should work to follow up with the families and essentially perform counseling between student and parent.  We also don’t have licensed family therapists employed in our schools.
  2. Overnight trips.  The way that this reads to me, is that biological males and biological females could potentially be allowed to sleep in the same room.  Reality Check: Does this committee honestly believe that students wouldn’t take advantage of this to have alone time with their significant other?
  3. Bullying/Harassment Policy.  Our school has one in place.  Each year we teach all of the students about bullying and what it is, but also what it isn’t.  There’s a great deal of confusion sometimes between conflict and bullying.  I have never had a student report being bullied for their sexual orientation or gender identity, but I have had plenty of students in my office upset over another student sending or showing private photos.  I would bet instances of this would only increase by allowing the boys who falsely claim to identify as girls into the girl’s restroom and locker room. Maybe reflect on how you were in middle school/high school and if you had the opportunity to get into the girls’ locker room, would you have taken it?
  4. It’s stated that “All students…so that they can comfortably and fully engage in their school program and activities.”  I believe the key word is ALL and this includes the cisgender students as well but they seem to be completely forgotten in this document.  What about their comfort level? Reality Check:  I can name all of the boys in my school that would take advantage of this policy to be able to venture into the girl’s restroom or locker room to get a peek.  The policy set forth by the VDOE wouldn’t allow us to question them and what their true intent is.  What will happen when those boys start taking photos and then spreading them around?  Of course, we have rules of no cell phones in the locker rooms, but how many middle/high schoolers do you know who follow every single rule?  Have you even considered the can of worms that this will open?  The document notes how school personnel can’t even tell parents when a student of the opposite sex has been changing in the locker room, but what’s to stop the students?  How will the parents who feel that their children’s privacy has been violated, react?  Has this honestly even been considered?  The rumor mill is alive and well in middle and high schools.  If a student doesn’t want their parents to know, it is only a matter of time before they will find out.
  5. This policy would require staff to address students by their preferred pronoun, which could potentially change every day.  How are staff to know?  I have two issues with this.  First, students can barely remember to do their homework – do we really expect them to remember to tell their teachers their preferred pronouns each day?  Second, what is to stop a student from taking advantage of this and using it as retaliation against a teacher.  What I mean is, a student claiming that their teacher is not using their proper pronouns (the document identifies that as a form of harassment), in an attempt to get the teacher fired.  And you would be naïve to believe that students wouldn’t try to get a teacher fired if they didn’t like them.
  6. My last point is in regards to “menstrual supplies should be made available in all bathrooms to be gender-inclusive.”  I read the document and it notes that these products would be free so they would be easily accessed.  When I read this, all I could think about was the absolute waste of these products.  I could absolutely see the boys taking these products and playing with them and making a complete mess in the bathrooms and using them as a huge distraction in the classrooms.  What a waste of money, too.
CommentID: 96703