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.
Commenter: VA Clinical Psychologist
- The proposed policies articulate views – such as the view that “Gender identity is considered an innate characteristic that most children declare by age five to six” – that are far different from those of many parents. Through its blanket endorsement of views like these, the VDOE has gone far beyond the path the General Assembly prescribed.
- Schools have a duty to protect the bodily privacy and dignity of all students.
- No child should be forced to share showers, locker rooms, hotel rooms or other intimate settings with a member of the opposite biological sex.
- Many children would feel uncomfortable when they encounter a member of the opposite sex – particularly adults – in gendered facilities or when entering a shared hotel room as part of an overnight school activity.
- Children, particularly adolescents, can experience hypersensitive and traumatic reactions to these situations.
- Schools should not be accommodating the especially harmful view that youth is an appropriate time to be encouraging, in some cases, irreversible “gender transitions”.
- The model regulations infringe the First Amendment rights of parents to raise and care for their children.
- The Department’s proposed policies would pit children against their parents when it comes to important questions about sex and gender identity.