Two organizations asked the Lynchburg Circuit Court to issue a preliminary injunction against the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), temporarily blocking implementation of legally-mandated transgender policies in school boards across Virginia. On Wednesday, they argued that while a lawsuit over the policy proceeds, school boards are implementing the policies which, they said, could be harmful to children.
In March, lawyers from the FFLC, and the Christian Action Network (CAN) sued the VDOE and Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. The lawsuit focuses on the VDOE’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools. The model policies took effect March 6, 2021, and school boards must adopt policies consistent with the model by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. However, the lawsuit says there are legal problems with the policies and that the VDOE did not properly address comments made during a legally required public comment phase.
VDOE lawyer Melissa Charnes asked the court to dismiss the case and argued that the FFLC and CAN don’t have standing.
“It’s really based in speculation about what school divisions will do and what will happen as a result,” she said. “How they will be ultimately implemented and enforced.”
CAN Legal Counsel David Carroll said, “All the school districts are supposedly to be subjected to these rules, including, you’re not allowed to question anybody going in to the opposite sex bathroom. So is there a danger to children there? You bet there is. Do they have standing to be concerned about it? Of course they do.”
Exactly how the VDOE or other state authorities will enforce adoption of transgender policies is unclear. Some school boards have already said they will not adopt the policies. The judge asked Charnes if there was guidance for enforcement within the statute.
Charnes said, “There is no mechanism within that specific statute. The model policy document is a tool for school divisions to use when they are developing policy.”
The judge said he would make a decision on the motion to dismiss and the motion for preliminary injunction after considering the arguments.
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