Several school districts in Virginia said they would be rejecting Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s model policies requiring students to use bathrooms and pronouns that match their biological sex.
The updated Virginia Department Of Education’s 2023 Model Policies include “clear and useful” suggestions to school districts for preferred pronoun usage, maintaining student records, the identification of students and enforcing sex-based dress codes.
Under the new guidelines, students must use bathrooms and other private facilities that correspond with their biological sex instead of gender identity unless required by federal law. Students are also required to receive parental permission to be referred to by a different name or gender.
Alexandria City Public School’s Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt and School Board Chair Michelle Rief released a joint statement on Monday saying they were “dismayed” when Youngkin introduced the policies on transgender students, ALXnow reported. This is the second straight year that the district has rejected the policies, which are updated annually.
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“[W]e want to reaffirm our commitment to all students, staff and families, including our LGBTQIA+ community, that ACPS will continue to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students,” the statement reads. “School Board Policy JB: Nondiscrimination in Education protects students from discrimination due to gender expression, gender identity, sexual harassment and transgender status.”
ACPS said they are still reviewing the new policies to ensure they are following state and federal law, but remain committed to upholding the school’s nondiscrimination policy that was adopted back in 1996 – a policy that has identified gender identity as a protected class since 2013.
Loudoun County Public Schools and Prince William County Public Schools are also reviewing the updated policies, according to FOX 5 DC. Stafford, Fairfax and Arlington County school districts already have policies in place that do not comply with the state’s new guidelines.
“We have reviewed the model policies and determined that our current policies and policy implementation procedures that protect the rights of our transgender students will stay as is,” Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán wrote in a statement last week.
He continued: “Moreover, they are in alignment with decisions from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1973, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. I oppose any policy that infringes upon the rights of our students and threatens the safety and well-being of our LGBTQIA+ students.”
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The Virginia Department of Education first introduced Youngkin’s model policies in 2022, which reversed those implemented under former Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam.
The Youngkin administration argues that the model policies provide parents with more rights when it comes to their child’s education.
“The law states that the Virginia Department of Education shall provide model policies and school boards shall adopt,” a spokesperson for the governor said in a statement to Fox 5 DC. “The Virginia Department of Education has fulfilled its responsibility to develop the model policies, school boards are expected to follow the law.”
It is unclear what penalty, if any, school districts would face for failing to follow the state’s new policies.