BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – Emotions ran high Thursday night in a Bedford County school board meeting that lasted more than four hours.
Two hot topics were on the table with the start of the school year just around the corner: transgender policy and COVID mitigation.
School leaders are looking to vote up or down recommendations from the Virginia Department of Education.
“How many transgender students do we have identified right now,” one school board member said.
In an effort to create inclusivity, the Department of Education suggests transgender students be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with.
Bedford County Schools will offer single-room restrooms at high schools and middle schools for all students who want extra privacy.
Also, students will no longer be required to dress up for gym class.
“My own child has told me that they will not go to the bathroom if they have to share with transgender students,” a concerned parent said.
Several parents spoke out against the policy, saying it raises safety concerns. When school leaders moved onto the topic of COVID-19, it was more of the same.
“This decision as many have mentioned should be left up to the student or the parent,” another concerned parent said.
In a 4-3 vote, school leaders say it will be up to parents on whether to mask up their kids, despite the department of education’s recommendation for all to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
School leaders say they will be seeking legal advice on their policies, and that their priority is keeping kids safe and in the classroom.