As required by House bill 145 and Senate bill 161 (identical to HB 145), adopted in February 2020, the Virginia Department of Education is developing “Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools. A draft has been published at Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virgiinia Public Schools (virginia.gov) on which the public is invited to comment between now and 11:59 pm. on February 3 (CLICK ON => Guidance Document Public Comment Forum (virginia.gov)). After a final model is adopted by the Dept. of Education, every local school board will have to adopt a policy that is at a minimum consistent, although it can be more protective.
The policies promoted include:
- Warning that failure to use a transgender student’s preferred pronoun could subject teachers or students to disciplinary action.
- That schools should help students make decisions about “gender identity” without parents being informed.
- Students should be allowed to use the same changing facilities or overnight accommodations as those of a different biological sex based on “gender identity.” To do so does not require any substantiating evidence or that such identity has been asserted for any required duration.
- School staff is warned not to question anyone entering a restroom.
- School staff may need to report parents for “abuse” if they are being non-supportive of a child’s assertion of gender identity different than their sex at birth.
We encourage you to watch a portion of a workshop (video below) conducted by Virginia Equality and Side-by-Side. The degree of support the initiative has from the wife of Virginia Governor Northam Virginia Governor Ralph Northam – Governor Ralph Northam) should alert you that this policy will become enforceable state school policy if we do not make our opposition felt. The remarks of Virginia’s First Lady Pamela Northam appear from 5:00 until 11:40, and again at 49:54 in closing. On the video, staff of the two advocacy groups coach their supporters on how to make an emotionally persuasive pitch for these policies.
Every Democratic delegate and senator representing Prince William county voted for these bills. If the Dept. of Education is going beyond what they thought they were voting for in the bills, now is the time for them to speak up and repeal those bills.