Virginia is still reviewing feedback on policies that restrict the rights of transgender students

Students at West Potomac High School walked out in September to protest Virginia’s proposed policies on the treatment of transgender students (photo courtesy of Mara Surovell).

The Virginia Department of Education doesn’t have a clear timeline for when its new policies on the treatment of transgender students will come into effect, leaving Fairfax County Public Schools and other local school districts to wait and see if the state makes changes in response to vocal opposition to the proposal.

It has now been over a month since the state closed its public comment period on draft “model” policies that would require schools to identify students based on their sex assigned at birth and disciplinary action for naming or that Ban wrong gender of a student, even if they get it Their official school records have changed.

“The model policy document has not yet been finalized. The department is still reviewing public comments,” VDOE communications director Charles Pyle told FFXnow.

The department received more than 71,000 comments on the guidelines — some supportive, some critical — while the forum was open September 26-October 26.

The guidelines could have come into effect as soon as the comment period ended, but the VDOE said last month that implementation would be delayed by 30 days, under a state code provision that requires a delay when a guide contradicts state law.

Opponents of the proposed policy have argued that it would violate the Virginia Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. A section on student involvement in athletics also violates state law, which directed the VDOE to create the model guidelines that specifically excluded sport from consideration.

Though the additional 30-day period has now expired, Pyle says VDOE has no idea when reviewing public comments might end, citing the volume of comments. Department staff can make changes to draft policies that require approval by the head of state.

The Fairfax County School Board has indicated it will not adopt the model policies, which conflict with its existing policies supporting LGBT students. The Board of Supervisors issued a formal statement disagreeing with them, arguing that they flout legal precedent and harm transgender and other gender-nonconforming students.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has championed the policy as “protecting parents’ fundamental rights to make decisions for their children,” will be in Fairfax County tomorrow to celebrate the opening of the expanded I-66 express lanes last week.

According to a media release, board chairman Jeff McKay will also attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Fairfax Corner, but no policy discussions are expected between the Democratic chairman and the Republican governor.

“We understand that the governor is already aware that Chairman McKay has a proven record of his strong opposition to the proposed model policy change and its impact on families in Fairfax County,” McKay’s office said.

After the ribbon-cutting, Youngkin is scheduled to appear in Arlington for an unspecified announcement of economic development.

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