The administration of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has suggested new regulations for the state’s schools governing how they should treat transgender kids, including limitations on which restrooms they may use and the pronouns they are allowed to use.
The work of Youngkin’s predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam, was essentially undone when the Virginia Department of Education published its 2022 Model Policies online on Friday. The more than 1 million students who are enrolled in the public education system in the state would be impacted by the new regulations.
The updated policies make it clear that kids may only use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the sex given to them at birth. Again, if a student wishes to engage in extracurricular activities such as sports, they must only join teams that correspond to the sex assigned at birth.
“Would violate their constitutionally protected rights,”
Additionally, without a formal legal document or court order, a pupil’s legal name and sex cannot be altered, “even upon the written instruction of a parent or eligible student.” Only the pronouns associated with the student’s sex at birth may be used by teachers and other school personnel when referring to that student.
However, they are also under no obligation to use a student’s chosen names if they believe doing so “would violate their constitutionally protected rights,” regardless of the documentation.
Now that new prohibitions on homosexual and transgender kids have been established by state legislators all throughout the United States, Virginia has joined the group. The discussions of sexuality and gender identity in schools are frequently restricted by these laws, much like in Virginia.
According to the LGBTQ rights organisation Freedom for All Americans, more than 200 anti-LGBTQ measures have been implemented at the state level just this year. Some even go so far as to impose access restrictions on medical care that is gender-affirming.
Virginia, according to the agency, would implement these new criteria “affirms the parental rights to make decisions about the upbringing and education of their children. In Virginia, boosting outcomes for all children depends on giving parents the tools they need to do their jobs. This is a fundamental right.”
The organisation claimed that the measures taken under Northam’s direction “supported a specific worldview intended to achieve cultural and social transformation in schools.”
The Republican governor of the state’s policies has already drawn immediate condemnation from Democrats and advocacy groups.
Youngkin was criticised for breaking the state’s human rights statute by Democratic delegate Danica Roem of Virginia, who represents Prince William County.
This past weekend, she tweeted that “[Youngkin’s] behaviour should be fought in court under the Virginia Human Rights Act.”
Later this month, the public can still voice their opinions on the draught model policies on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall website.
The Virginia Department of Education’s policy requires families to provide legal papers in order for their children to be granted the ability to alter their name and gender on official school records. According to the policies, only if parents specifically request the change in writing can teachers and other school staff refer to a student by a new name or pronoun.
As anti-transgender legislation proliferates around the nation, Virginia’s regulations are issued.
At least 300 pieces of legislation have been proposed, according to a Washington Post analysis, and they aim to do things like ban transgender athletes from participating in school sports, restrict the ability of teachers to teach about gender identity and sexual orientation, remove books with LGBTQ characters from school libraries, and make it illegal to give hormone therapy to minors.
Ten anti-LGBTQ measures that all target schools entered into force on July 1 alone.
Anthony Belotti, a 22-year-old college student.
The reversal is especially devastating for transgender students who were getting used to the increased safeguards, according to Anthony Belotti, a 22-year-old college student who grew up in Stafford County schools as nonbinary, transmasculine, and queer.
Belotti remembered how in high school he was forbidden to use the men’s bathroom and had to wait until he got home. He went for too long without urinating, and as a result, he eventually developed chronic kidney and urinary tract infections.
According to research, there are 4,000 transgender teenagers in Virginia, and they have a significantly higher risk of attempting suicide.
According to Belotti, this will result in fewer safeguards against bullying. Students who have experienced receiving help and respect would be particularly affected by having those things taken away from them, according to the expert.
But several parents hailed Friday’s guidelines as a significant triumph. According to Ian Prior, a parent from Loudoun County, a former official in the Trump administration, and the founder of the advocacy group Fight For Schools, the rules restore parents’ rights to make decisions about their children’s education.
Prior stated that Governor Youngkin had pledged to return parental responsibility for the care, rearing, and education of their children. “He really delivered,” was said.
Following a 30-day comment period that starts on September 26th, school districts in Virginia are required to implement the recommendations, or “rules that are more comprehensive,” the state Department of Education stated.
According to Charles Pyle, a department spokesman, Jillian Balow, the superintendent of public instruction, will have the authority to approve the regulations without requiring a vote from the Virginia Board of Education.
After the public comment period has ended, the department will review the remarks. Following Balow’s approval of a final draught, the recommendations will go into effect.
The statement was made on Saturday by Pyle.
The policies are unlikely to go into effect without opposition, though. According to law academics, there are two main reasons why the governor’s administration’s rules are subject to legal challenges because of the method the governor introduced them.
The first focuses on the primary justification that Youngkin’s administration offered for the guidelines: a 2020 law that was sponsored by Democratic lawmakers but passed with bipartisan support and required the Department of Education to create model policies for the protection of transgender students before requiring all school districts to adopt versions of them.
Although the content of these rules is not specified by law, it does state that they must “address common issues with transgender children in accordance with evidence-based best practises” and guard against bullying and harassment of transgender students. The 2021 regulations put forth by the Northam administration comply with this statute.
One of the rules, which states that “students shall use bathrooms that correspond to his or her sex,” is unclear as to how much authority the Youngkin administration has to enforce it. The guidelines mention a 2020 federal appeals court ruling that held a Virginia school board had discriminated on the basis of sex and violated the 14th
Amendment when it forbade a transgender student from using the bathroom that corresponded with his gender identity. The ruling held that this must hold true “except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires.”