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Virginia overturns school protections for transgender students

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In a move that could further fuel debate about how transgender rights are handled in schools, Virginia will no longer allow students to use facilities marked with their self-identified gender, Require legal documentation to be submitted if you wish to be called otherwise. Pronoun. The directives are among several guidelines for schools released Friday by the Virginia Department of Education, overturning transgender policies the state outlined last year.

The guidelines, or model policy, released by the administration of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, require schools to “keep parents well informed on all matters” related to children’s health, social and psychological development. says that there is “Encourage or direct teachers to hide material information about their students, including gender-related information, from their parents.” It states that it is not necessary to speak to or refer to students in any way.

The reversal builds on a promise Youngkin made during his gubernatorial campaign. “The 2022 Model Policy as posted fulfills the governor’s commitment to protect the rights of parents and uphold the dignity and respect of all public school students,” said spokesman Macaulay Porter. . Democrats and LGBTQ activists argue that educators cause clear harm to transgender children, including forcing them to disclose a child’s gender identity to their parents.

“Transgender children deserve to learn and grow in an environment free of bullying, intimidation and fear,” State Representative Mike Mullin said on Twitter Friday. It means being mentioned about who they are and being supported for who they are, especially by teachers and administrators.”

The Department of Education’s move follows a wave of laws in several states over the past two years restricting the rights and protections of transgender children in schools. But Friday’s announcement also stood out because it reversed policies enacted last year by Youngkin’s predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam.

Northam was instructing Virginia schools to allow transgender students to use institutions, pronouns and names that match their gender identity rather than the gender they were assigned at birth. His guidelines were created after Virginia lawmakers passed a law in his 2020 asking the state’s education department to create a model policy. A model policy is like a template for schools to follow.

According to the bill, one of the goals of these policies was to maintain “a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students.”

Youngkin’s administration has repurposed the same legal premises to unravel the protections previously granted to transgender children, citing that law in new guidelines.

“It is not the prerogative of schools or governments to impose a particular set of ideological beliefs on all students,” Porter said, adding that “important decisions rest first and foremost with parents.” added.

In its latest model policy, the Department of Education criticized the Northam-era guidelines, stating that it “disregards parental rights and other legal and constitutional laws that significantly affect how schools, including transgender students, educate their students.” disregarded the principle of

Virginia’s ACLU said the new policy would exacerbate already high rates of self-harm and suicide among LGBTQ students.

“We are appalled that the Youngkin administration has overhauled important protections for transgender students in public schools.” The group wrote on Twitter.

The 2020 law didn’t clarify what the penalties would be if a school district didn’t follow the guidelines.

Youngkin appealed to parents concerned about gender-neutral restrooms, virus-induced school closures and racial teachings for help in last year’s gubernatorial race against Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe. . His strategy proved effective last November, when Youngkin became the first Republican candidate to win a statewide election in Virginia since 2009.

There is one month of public comment before the Model Policy takes effect. The Virginia Department of Education will then review the comments and the final version of the model policy will be approved by the state superintendent.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said, following President Biden’s guidance, the protections afforded under federal law applicable to gay and transgender individuals would be enforced in the workplace and in schools. .

These directives state that businesses and schools cannot deny a transgender person access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. He said he should be allowed to participate in sports teams that match his gender.

A group of 20 conservative state attorneys general filed lawsuits to block these orders, and in July of this year, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Biden administration from enforcing the orders.