RICHMOND, Va. – The General Assembly passed a law last year requiring school systems to adopt inclusive policies for transgender and gender non-conforming students by fall 2021, but some lawmakers are encouraging districts to reject this.
“The main goal was to make sure that school boards and personnel have a baseline based on social science and best practices,” explained 53rd district Delegate Marcus Simon.
In March, the Virginia Department of Education provided model policies for school boards requiring they allow the use of name and gender pronouns students identify with, and allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.
Simon co-sponsored the bill that is now law.
“Centralizing it at the board of education, creating a model policy for everyone to adopt we thought was the way to go,” stated Simon.
“Certainly we want to make sure that every child is loved and we don’t have bullying and those type things, but the radical items in here need to be rejected by the school board,” said 23rd District Senator Steve Newman.
If rejected or completely disregarded, it is unclear what would happen. We asked VDOE but have not heard back.
If needed, Newman suggests school systems involve the court system.
It is unclear how each system will implement and practice these policies, but Lauren Farmer provides insight from her training with Roanoke County and Roanoke City schools.
“As a trainer, I really focus on helping people feel comfortable and safe to ask hard questions and get what they need to take in the information, make sense of it internally so they can be a part of creating this more affirming, safe environment for students,” stated Licensed Professional Counselor Lauren Farmer.
Each school system has until August or September to adopt its policy.