After refusing to pass a transgender policy required by Virginia law, the Hanover County Public School Board has introduced a proposed transgender policy that, if enacted, will require a written request from both the student and their parents if that student wants to use a restroom or locker room that doesn’t correspond with their biological sex. Under the proposed policy the school board would approve or deny the requests.
According to the policy, the request can include student disciplinary and criminal records, “information related to the privacy and safety of other students,” a statement from the student; statements from a physician, therapist, or counselor; a statement from the students’ guardian or parent; and “any other relevant information, including documents from other interested parties.”
School officials can also request a meeting with the student and the parent before the school principal provides a summary of the request and the documents to the school board.
The policy comes after months of sparring between the board, counseled by conservative organization the Alliance Defending Freedom, and transgender advocates including the ACLUVA. Although there was a public comment period, the board did not discuss the policy after it was introduced on Tuesday, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. The board will hold additional public hearings before a vote scheduled later this month.
“This is not just about bathrooms or locker rooms. It’s about the right of transgender students to exist in public spaces without having to justify or explain themselves,” ACLU of Virginia Policy and Legislative Counsel Policy and Legislative Counsel said in a press release. “Yet, the Hanover County School Board’s proposed policy seeks to do just that by imposing an invasive policy that will deter youth from accessing school facilities.”
The policy differs from model policies issued by the Virginia Department of Education under former Governor Ralph Northam’s administration; districts are required by law to pass policies consistent with those model policies..
One of the central principles of the model policies is for school staff to protect transgender student’s privacy, including protecting confidentiality if the student’s family might disagree.
“Additionally, privacy and confidentiality are critical for transgender students who do not have supportive families. Disclosing a student’s gender identity can pose imminent safety risks, such as losing family support or housing,” the model policy states.
Last year as districts were enacting policies, parental input into school policy became a central issue in Virginia’s gubernatorial election.
“With regards to informing parents with most important decisions about their children, I think everybody knows where I stand; parents matter,” Youngkin told WJLA. “Parents should be at the forefront of all of these discussions. And I firmly believe that teachers and schools have an obligation to make sure that parents are well informed about what’s happening in their kids’ lives. And one of the things we learned last year during the campaign is that parents were tired of being pushed to the background in their child’s education.”
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This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.