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Augusta County School Board votes against VDoE transgender model policies

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 9:01 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The Augusta County School Board voted unanimously Thursday night not to adopt model policies for the treatment of transgender students put forth by the Virginia Department of Education.

Nearly 500 people filled the Wilson Memorial High School auditorium for the special called meeting.

School Board members received a standing ovation from most of the room for their decision not to adopt model policies.

“I do not think that any child in Augusta County Public Schools should ever be bullied, harassed, or in any way made to feel uncomfortable in their respective schools,” said Augusta County School Board member Dr. John Ocheltree. “Like many parents and grandparents of Augusta County, the Virginia Department of Education policy does not sit well with me.”

The Board says the existing anti-discrimination policies are in compliance on the basis of sex.

The vote came after two hours of hearing from the people of Augusta County.

The majority of meeting goers oppose adopting the model policies with many dressed in red clothing in solidarity.

“I believe parents want to have your backs if you stand up and vote no to the liberal agenda,” said Beth Jenkins who opposes the model policies. “They do not trust the government. They want to send their children to public school, but they will not be told how to raise their children.”

“Why accept this government overreach? Why open this Pandora’s Box? Why a few students’ comfort is more important than a vast majority of students’ discomfort?” asked Terrence Williams who also opposes the policies.

A much smaller number of people, some carrying signs, spoke in favor of the policies.

“The impact of every person in a school being supportive has the potential to change statistics and decrease the suicide rate of the LGBTQ+ youth from 40% to none,” said Elizabeth White who has a transgender teenager and supports the model policies.

The board also unanimously voted to make masks optional for Pre-K through 12th-grade students.

School Board Member Tom Goforth, representing the South River District, submitted his resignation, effective at the end of 2021. Goforth says the stress has been too much and is affecting his health.

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