Virginia will prevent students from welcoming transgender students

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In a major rollback of LGBTQ rights, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) administration will require transgender students in Virginia to access school facilities and programs that match the sex they were assigned at birth and make it harder for students to change their names and genders at school.

Under new ‘model policies’ for schools’ treatment of transgender students released Friday night, the Department for Education is requiring families to submit legal paperwork for their children to have the right to change their name and gender. at school. The guidelines also state that teachers cannot be compelled to refer to transgender students by name and gender if doing so violates “their constitutionally protected free speech rights”.

And the guidelines say schools cannot ‘encourage or direct teachers to withhold material information about a student from the student’s parent, including gender-related information’ – suggesting teachers could be coerced to disclose transgender students to their parents.

School districts must adopt the state’s new guidelines or “more comprehensive policies,” after a 30-day comment period that begins Sept. 26, the Department of Education said. The school board will not have to vote to adopt the policies.

“These 2022 model policies reflect the Department’s confidence in parents to exercise their fundamental right under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Virginia Constitution to exercise care and control to direct the nurturing, nurturing, and control of their children,” reads the instructions. “This primary role of parents is well established and indisputable. Empowering parents is key to improving child outcomes.

The model policies reverse guidelines issued in 2021 by Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) administration. These guidelines prescribed that transgender students be allowed access to restrooms, locker rooms, and locker rooms that match their gender identity, stipulated that schools allow students to participate in sports and programs that match their gender identity, and required school districts and teachers to accept and use the gender of students. pronouns and identities without question.

In their own guidelines, Youngkin administration officials wrote that the Northam councils sought “cultural and social transformation in schools” and “ignored parental rights”. The Youngkin guidelines state that Northam-era policies are dead: they “have no further force or effect”.

Northam’s guidelines were developed pursuant to a 2020 law, proposed by Democratic lawmakers, that required the Virginia Department of Education to develop model policies — and later required all school districts to adopt them — for the protection of transgender students. The law does not define the specific nature of these policies, but does state that they must “deal with common issues concerning transgender students in accordance with evidence-based best practices” and states that they must be designed to prevent bullying and harassment of transgender students.

But — in a move likely to spark legal challenges — the Youngkin administration used that same law to issue its own version of the Education Department guidelines. The 20-page document published on Friday says it is published “as required” by 2020 legislation.

The Youngkin administration is also trying to reorient the public review period to which the Northam-era rules were subject. These guidelines, as usual, have been posted for weeks online for the public to share their reactions.

Friday’s document says Youngkin’s guidelines were developed by “taking into account the more than 9,000 comments received during the public comment period” for the Northam-era policies.

“The Model 2022 Policy released today delivers on the Governor’s commitment to upholding parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said. in a written statement. “It is not within the purview of any school or government to impose a particular set of ideological beliefs on all students.”

The response from Democratic lawmakers was swift.

“These new policies are cruel and not based on evidence at all,” tweeted Of the. Marcus Simon, who was a co-sponsor of the Northam-era law. “If passed, these policies will harm the children of Virginia. Stop bullying kids to score political points.

The governor’s allies welcomed the proposal. “Thanks @GovernorVA for correcting one of the most abusive and abusive uses of a ‘model policy’ I have ever seen,” tweeted GOP Del. Glenn Davis. “This new standard guarantees all students the right to attend school in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and bullying.

A spokesperson for Youngkin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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