In 2020 when Democrats took control of the state legislature, they passed a law requiring that school districts adopt policies consistent with a state document called "Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools." Now, the law itself still remains in effect, but the policies it refers to have been replaced to support parental rights over gender ideology.
The Democrats' policy mandated that schools "eliminate gender-based practices” to avoid offending transgender students, such as father-daughter dances and homecoming kings or queens. It also told school districts to create gay clubs, allow for transgender students to share bunks with children of the opposite biological sex during sleepaway trips, and ordered teachers to be trained to be “LGBT+ affirming.”
“Nonbinary students, as well as transgender students, may use gendered pronouns like she/her/hers or he/him/his, use gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them/their or ze/hir/hirs… School divisions should accept a student’s assertion of their gender identity without requiring any particular substantiating evidence,” the old policy said. “A school employee’s intentional and persistent refusal to respect a student’s name and pronoun is considered discriminatory.”
Describing how a child's gender transition may be hidden from their parents, the policy said “a plan may include addressing the student at school with their name and pronoun consistent with their gender identity while using the legal name and pronoun associated with the sex assigned at birth when communicating with parents.”
In addition, the mandate called for “Strategies to engage parents and other stakeholders regarding an inclusive school community that affirms LGBTQ+ students” and promoting “LGBTQ+-affirming resources for students and families," using taxpayer dollars.
The new rules, which will go into effect after a 30-day public comment period, will base things such as team sports and locker rooms on biological sex, have students be called by the names and pronouns listed on their official records unless a parent approves an alternative, and will prevent school staff from keeping a child's gender identity or transition a secret from their parents.
“The 2021 Model Policies promoted a specific viewpoint aimed at achieving cultural and social transformation in schools. The 2021 Model Policies also disregarded the rights of parents and ignored other legal and constitutional principles that significantly impact how schools educate students, including transgender students. With the publication of the 2022 Model Policies, the Department hereby withdraws the 2021 Model Policies, which shall have no further force and effect,” officials said in the new policy.
“The First Amendment forbids government actors to require individuals to adhere to or adopt any particular ideological beliefs,” it continued. “The U.S. Constitution, the Virginia Constitution, federal law, state law, and relevant case law place beyond debate the rights of parents to be informed about their children and the limitations of government to usurp parents’ rightful role. Additionally, decades of research conducted worldwide has consistently concluded that parental involvement in a child’s education and development is paramount.”
“Overnight travel accommodations, locker rooms, and other intimate spaces used for school-related activities and events shall be based on sex,” the policy said. “For any athletic program or activity that is separated by sex, the appropriate participation of students shall be determined by sex.”
When the new “2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for all Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools” was posted online by the Virginia Department of Education, they were met with backlash from liberals.
"Star Trek" actor George Takei took to Twitter to call Gov. Youngkin a "transphobic bully."
Transgender activist Gavin Grimm called the policy change "an emergency."
Fairfax County, VA school board member Karl Frisch also denounced the parental rights policies, claiming that it will put lives in "jeopardy."
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