Gov. Youngkin and VDOE release school policies on transgender student treatment

The Youngkin administration has released the 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for all Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools.
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The Youngkin administration has released the 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for all Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools.

The guidelines address the treatment of transgender students, and are intended to replace the established 2021 Model Policies.

One point of Youngkin’s new policy that people are taking issue with is: “Schools shall to defer to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children.”

Delegate Sally Hudson says these policies are a backwards step in supporting LGBTQ students.

“Nearly 40% of the homeless youth population identifies as LGBT because some parents don’t welcome their kids at home once they’re out, and that’s why it’s important that schools understand how to be a supportive environment for children,” Hudson said. “It’s a real shock and a disappointment to see the governor take this step backward.”

The new policies would put parents in the position to tell schools what name and pronouns their student uses.

“What’s unfortunate is that politicians are trying to turn this into a tug of war between teachers and parents, when it’s really about empowering and entrusting students to share this news with a supportive network at their own pace,” Hudson said.

“When circumstances present themselves and there is a child who is in fact considering this kind of issue parents should be notified and engaged. I think that’s just the best thing for the children of Virginia,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said.

Gov. Youngkin’s presswoman added in a statement: “The 2022 model policy posted delivers on the governor’s commitment to preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students. It is not under a school’s or the government’s purview to impose a set of particular ideological beliefs on all students. Key decisions rest, first and foremost, with the parents. The previous policies implemented under the Northam Administration did not uphold constitutional principles and parental rights, and will be replaced.”

Albemarle County Public Schools adopted a policy on the treatment of transgender students last year.

“Primarily, what it says is that we respect the needs of students. When a student identifies as transgender and they request for example to be called by a different name that we respect that,” ACPS spokesperson Phil Giaramita said.

Now, ACPS is reading over the new guidance and seeing what it would have to change if it is passed towards the end of the year.

“We’re looking at that proposed guidance very carefully to see what other areas are constant or different from previous guidance, and again, how it will impact us,” Giaramita said.

If these policies are adopted, schools would have to follow suit.

UVA Law Professor Craig Konnoth discussed the legal repercussions that passing these policies would incite.

“There will be court battles, and I think on really a few different grounds,” Konnoth said.

Konnoth says those grounds include discrimination based on gender identity and a statute that touches on the education of transgender children.

“The ACLU has made it clear that they’re reviewing the policies. There’s a chance that they are waiting for the comment period to end, and to see if there’s any modifications before they file suit, but a lawsuits going to come if these policies are not modified,” Konnoth said.

The public comment period for the new policy opens on Monday, September 26, and will remain open for 30 days.

After that, the board of education will have the final say on whether or not the policy will be adopted.

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