Public comment period for LGBTQ school policies set to close Wednesday

Youngkin said the new policies are about parental rights and protecting children.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 10:28 AM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Wednesday is the last day to leave a comment on Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s model policies for transgender and nonbinary students in the commonwealth.

Youngkin said the new policies are about parental rights and protecting children.

“This is just part of an overall fundamental belief that parents need to be deeply engaged in their children’s lives, their education, their well-being, their upbringing; that’s where parents need to be engaged,” said Youngkin in an interview with WHSV in September.

The guidelines include policies that prevent school staff from concealing information about a child’s gender identity from parents. Other policies include requiring staff to refer to students only by the name and pronouns that appear in their official record, unless otherwise instructed by a parent; as well as informing and giving parents a chance to object before any counseling on a child’s gender identity is offered.

Shenandoah LGBTQ Center Executive Director AnhThu Nguyen said the guidelines, if implemented, will put many children in dangerous situations.

“Oftentimes, unfortunately, the only place for them to gain access to affirming environments, other peers, adults is school,” Nguyen said.

Research is available on policies like these, and Nguyen cited studies done through the Trevor Project.

“Removing affirming policies at the school level has detrimental impacts on mental health. The Trevor Project released a recent 2022 survey of queer youth, where nearly half of those youth have considered suicide in the last year,” she said.

In her role, Nguyen said she’s interacted with many children who do not have supportive family at home. There’s a program for LGBTQ Youth who lose their housing due to their identity, Hope House.

“We’re seeing the impacts of non-inclusive environments every single day,” she said.

She said previous model policies for transgender and non-binary students protected students. She said she wants to see students think more about thriving, rather than just surviving.

“The 2021 inclusive policies that were put in place last year were one step closer, just one step closer to achieving that. The Youngkin policies are going to take us too many steps back, and it’s going to cause irreparable harm,” she said.

The public comment section of the policy has over 65,000 as of Oct. 25. Nguyen suggests anyone, especially transgender or non-binary people, with a story relevant to these guidelines share it.

“Those stories are really really impactful and I think are really important for showing youth and folks that we are here to support them, and we’re here to protect them, and they deserve to be protected,” she said.

To leave a comment or to view the comments, click here.