As school starts some Virginia school districts are refusing to enact policies regarding transgender students that align with the state’s model policies, a move Gov. Glenn Youngkin says violates the law.
In July, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released new model policies for schools to implement. The new policies require schools to use a student’s given name and pronouns matching their sex; require students to use the bathroom or locker room according to their sex, compete on sports teams aligned with their biological sex; and allow parents to make decisions regarding their child’s development and mental health. The policies also require schools to “defer” to parents on major decisions and “to collaborate” with parents on potential accommodations; parents and students also have the right to “opt out” of spaces shared with students of the opposite sex and offered alternative accommodations.
The new policies are a polar opposite change from model policies released in 2021, which called on schools to implement a gender-affirming model that permitted students to use whichever name or pronouns they chose, as well as the locker room, bathroom, or overnight accommodations of their chosen gender. Schools also hid gender transitions from parents due to supposed concerns of student safety and privacy.
With the start of a new school year, many school districts are defying VDOE’s guidance. Fairfax County School District, Virginia’s largest district, declared last Tuesday it would not implement policies in keeping with the model. In a message to parents, Superintendent Michelle Reid stated that the district had “concluded our detailed legal review and determined that our current Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) policies are consistent with federal and state anti-discrimination laws as required by the new model policies.”
Reid said schools would continue to use a student’s preferred name and pronouns and students would be allowed to use the facilities according to their gender identity, including on trips. Schools will also continue to hide student’s gender transitions from parents.
The Office of Gov. Glenn Youngkin demanded that Fairfax County follow the law. Spokesperson Macauley Porter said in a statement,
“The law requires the Virginia Department of Education to provide model policies and requires school boards to adopt policies consistent with those provided by the Department. The Fairfax County Public Schools policies diverge from VDOE model policy guidance and perpetuate a false notion that FCPS knows what’s better for a child than a child’s parent. The Fairfax County School Board is expected to follow the law.”
Fairfax’s defiance, though, was closely followed by Prince William County Public Schools, which also said they will not follow the order.
Earlier this week, Youngkin chastised school districts who are refusing to follow the law.
“We are very straightforwardly saying that first, parents are in charge of their children’s lives. The kids don’t belong to the state. They belong to parents and to families, and they have the ultimate say in decisions that that child is going to make with a parent, not with a bureaucrat.
These are parents who are frustrated with the fact that the dignity and the safety and the privacy of all children and families is not being ensured by the old policies that pushed parents out of their children’s lives…This is a parent moment, not a political moment. And they will, in fact, comply with the law and stop thinking that they know more than parents.”
One school district that says it will follow the model policies is Roanoke County, which adopted the new policies last week. The district’s superintendent, Dr. Ken Nicely, saw the importance of notifying parents of issues with their child. Nicely stated,
“Parents want to know what’s happening with their children. Imagine coming to a parent/teacher conference midway through the year and the teacher starts to refer to the student by a different name and the parent has no idea.”
He said that the school won’t be “outing” kids. Instead, he explained, what the school district has done for the past few years is “whenever a student identifies as transgender and is seeking accommodations, some extra support, and so forth, we work with them and their parents in a group meeting, along with counselors, administration, and the school to develop a plan that best meets their needs.”
Then, Nicely added, if the children “want to further have counseling over gender issues and so forth, the way that should look is, ‘Hey, are your parents aware?’ and if the students says no, ‘How can we help facilitate that communication, are you ready for that.”
These school districts were only too happy to adopt LGBT-affirming policies when the previous model policies were handed down, enthusiastically embracing gender ideology and the government’s deliberate attempts to hide gender transitions from parents. And they did this all in the face of parental criticism, even going so far as to silence them by shutting down school board meetings and having them arrested.
These school districts aren’t trying to follow the law or protect kids. They are twisting language and using political and activist tactics to obscure the fact that are usurping parental rights and putting kids in harm’s way to further their agenda.
And make no doubt, there has been real harm. In Loudoun County, two girls were sexually assaulted by skirt-wearing boy who was allowed by school officials to use the girls’ bathroom, crimes that were covered up by school board members. Appomattox County hid a girl’s self-identifying gender transition from her parents, leading to her being bullied and assaulted in the boys’ bathroom; by the time the parents were told what was going on, the girl had already made plans to run away with an online “friend” who turned out to be a sex trafficker, setting off a series of tragic events.
And this isn’t happening just in Virginia but across the country. Parents have filed lawsuits in Wisconsin and Florida for hiding gender transitions and encouraging secret gender transition plans for students. Another lawsuit has been filed against the Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado, because of a horrifying secret after-school group that was deceptively advertised as an “art club” but actually taught children about deviant sexual topics and encouraged transgenderism; after attending, one student underwent a “months-long emotional decline of gender and sexuality confusion that required counseling and included suicidal thoughts” while another student became so disturbed that her friendships deteriorated, asked to be homeschooled, and finally attempted suicide by drinking bleach.
Virginia’s new model policies are common sense and schools should happily step back from this culture war by supporting and trusting parents in their God-given role to steward their children and by getting back to their mission of educating children in academics, not radical sexual ideologies.
Over the past several years, schools have taken it upon themselves to grossly overstep their mission and boundaries. The Virginia government now needs to take steps to re-educate them on what those lines legally entail.
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