Virginia Governor Aims to Replace Transgender Student Policies

By Natalie McFarland

Staff Writer

On Friday, September 16, the administration of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin presented its proposed model policy to replace the state's existing guidelines for transgender and nonbinary pupils enrolled in public schools.

The "Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia's Public Schools," which were released as draft policies by Youngkin's administration on Friday, state that school personnel must refer to students using pronouns "appropriate to the sex" when referring to them in official records, and that records cannot be changed unless a legal document is provided to the school division.

Youngkin's policies state that school staff can use pronouns that conform to a student's gender identity if an eligible student 18 years of age or over, or someone under 18 who is emancipated, or a guardian has submitted a notice to the division. Parents would be required to be fully informed on school matters they consider important. However, according to the policy, school workers are not required to refer to or address a kid in any manner that would violate their constitutionally protected rights. The proposed policy also asks for the provision of single-user restrooms and other amenities in accessible locations, but it makes no mention of allowing transgender children to use facilities that correspond to their gender identity.

According to Youngkin's proposed model policies for 2022, the Virginia Department of Education "embarked on a thorough examination" of the previous model policies for how transgender kids should be treated in public schools before making the change.

The draft model policies further stated, "With the publication of these 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia's Public Schools, the Department hereby withdraws the 2021 Model Policies, which shall have no further force or effect.”