Some school districts are already signaling resistance to new draft model policies from the Virginia Department of Education that will repeal current model policies controlling school district transgender policy.
“We want to assure you that Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) will continue its commitment to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students. As a School Board and division, we are concerned with these ‘model policies’ that do not align with our mission, vision and core values to support all students and staff, in particular our core value of ensuring that we provide a welcoming environment for everyone in our school community,” Alexandria City Public Schools said in a letter to students, staff and families.
Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid wrote in a letter to the community, “I understand the concerns that our LGBTQIA+ staff, student, and family community have about what this change of direction by the state may mean for our school division. Please be assured that FCPS remains committed to an inclusive learning environment for each and every student and staff member and that our schools will continue to be safe and respectful learning spaces.”
The policies are a major change with a heavy emphasis on parental rights and a conservative approach to gender, but the Friday release wasn’t accompanied by any major announcement from Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration. Over the weekend, LGBTQ advocacy groups began issuing their reactions.
“By outing LGBTQ+ students who have not had conversations with their parent, Youngkin and his Dept. of Ed are willing to subject LGBTQ+ students to abuse. LGBTQ+ students make VA beautiful and deserve the safety to thrive. They are brave, bold, perfect. We’ve got you. Always,” Equality Virginia tweeted Friday.
Delegate Danica Roem (D-Prince William), who is transgender, said in a Twitter thread that the proposed policies violate state and federal law, and said that non-acceptance by family members is a key contributor to homelessness for LGBTQ youth.
“Forty percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. There’s a reason for that and it’s not a product of a society that loves them too much. The governor needs to talk to trans kids who’ve been beaten or kicked out for being out,” Roem said.
On Monday, WUSA9 reporter Megan Rivera asked Youngkin what he would tell a transgender student with an unsupportive family.
“I would say trust your parents,” Youngkin said. “At the moment where there are very difficult issues in families, and challenging issues in families, families come together. And this is why parents, in fact, have a role in their children’s lives. Parents have known these children from before they were born and they understand them and they love them. And this is a moment for families to come together, not to be excluded, and I think the previous administration’s policies, which specifically encouraged hiding from parents these kinds of discussions, were wrong.”
“A child deserves to have a parent involved in their lives. Children don’t belong to the state, they belong to a family,” Youngkin tweeted Monday. “Parents Matter. The Privacy, Dignity, and Respect policies are all about making sure kids are able to have parents involved and caring for them.”
That conflict reflects a national battle in which Republican governors are taking center stage. Virginians will debate the draft policy in a 30-day public comment period beginning September 26.
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