Albemarle County Public Schools dispels misinformation about proposed transgender policy

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 9:41 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE Co., Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County Public Schools is just weeks away from approving a new transgender policy. It’s a policy that riled up some members of the community earlier this month during a virtual school board meeting, but not all of what the public said and heard was true.

The packed public comment forum from that school board meeting was filled with misinformation, so the school district hosted a virtual information session Wednesday -- first to explain why the policy is important, and then to share what it is (and is not).

“Transgender youth are far more likely to experience violence victimization, such as bullying, at a rate of 2 times their peers, and be threatened or injured at a rate of 4 times their peers,” said Lars Holmstrom, the equity education specialist with ACPS.

That underscores the importance of a policy that, among other things, allows a student to be called by their preferred gender identity and pronoun, allows them to use bathrooms that match their identity, and bans dress codes that stereotype based on gender.

“The bottom line is we want to create a safe and conducive learning environment for all students,” Holmstrom said.

Now, to clear up the misinformation.

ACPS will not hide information from a student’s parents if they come out as transgender.

“When a child comes out as transgender or gender-expansive to an educator, the educator will work to create a plan with the student,” Holmstrom said. “The school always will look to develop that plan in a way where families are included as fully and as soon as this is deemed reasonable to do so through conversation with the student.”

Moving on to bathrooms. ACPS says no cisgender (someone who identifies as they gender they were born) student will be forced to use a bathroom that corresponds with their gender.

“Single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms are for those children too,” he said. “In fact, designating specific restrooms specifically for transgender or gender-expansive students alone would have the effect of creating a stigmatized environment for those students.”

Lastly: sports. The policy does not apply to any Virginia High School League teams.

“Our policy goes no further than allowing the student to participate in physical education or intramural sports in a matter consistent with the student’s gender identity,” said Ross Holden, the school board attorney.

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