(Headline USA) Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration has rewritten Virginia’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students, issuing guidance for school divisions that would roll back some accommodations and tighten parental notification requirements.
The new model policies from the Virginia Department of Education, which were posted online, say students’ participation in certain school programming and use of school facilities such as bathrooms or locker rooms should be based on their biological sex.
The policies also say that students who are minors must be referred to by the name and pronouns in their official records, unless a parent approves the use of something else.
Regarding parental notification, the guidelines say school divisions may not encourage teachers to conceal information about a student’s gender from his or her parents. And they say parents must be given an opportunity to object before counseling services pertaining to gender are offered.
The guidance is subject to a 30-day public comment period that opens later this month. Then, in accordance with a 2020 state law, local school boards must adopt policies that are “consistent with” the department’s but may be “more comprehensive,” the document says.
Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin, said in a statement that the updated policy “delivers on the governor’s commitment to preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students.”
Conservative lawmakers and advocacy groups welcomed the changes.
“We are thrilled to see Governor Youngkin leading our schools toward respecting the privacy and dignity of all students and the preeminent role of parents in the lives of their children,” said Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation.
Democrats, the Virginia Education Association and LGBTQ advocacy groups, meanwhile, criticized Youngkin, claiming the changes would harm vulnerable children.
Some LGBTQ advocates suggested the changes could be contested in court. The ACLU of Virginia said it was “appalled” by the overhaul, was reviewing the proposal and would have “more to say in the days to come.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.