Voices for Virginia’s Children Statement on Department of Education’s Proposed Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity and Respect for all Students and Parents
September 19, 2022
RICHMOND, Va. – At Voices for Virginia’s Children, we believe that all children in Virginia deserve opportunities that help them live up to their brightest potential. We are deeply concerned about the impact of the Department of Education’s proposed 2022 policy that will reverse the Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools. These proposed revisions affect the treatment and autonomy of transgender, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming students. We believe schools should be welcoming places where students can embrace their full identity and feel connected to their peers and their academic environment.
Efforts such as the proposed model policies suppress the individual rights and sense of belonging of LGBTQ+ students. At a time when mental health needs are increasing for LGBTQ+ youth, adding regulations that increase barriers and burdens on students and their families will further strain the well-being of students, our education system, and mental health supports. These policies can threaten the social-emotional and academic trajectory of students and should be examined for their intent to help young people succeed in school and in life.
We are deeply disappointed with a proposed model policy that puts children and youth in the middle of a political ping-pong match intended to create further partisan divisions. We know that politicians on both sides of the aisle can put the best interests of children and youth at the center of their decision-making. This was the case in 2020 when the General Assembly approved legislation on a bipartisan basis directing the Department of Education to protect LGTBQ+ students from discrimination and harassment.
We believe that children and youth are the experts in their own lives. We encourage students and their caregivers to become educated on these proposed policies, the laws that prompted their creation, and to assess how these proposals would impact their school environment. When the public comment period opens on September 26, we encourage students, parents, and their support networks to share their experiences and the recommendations that would protect students from harassment and discrimination.
For more information on ways to support and advocate for LGBTQ+ youth in Virginia, visit equalityvirginia.org
Voices for Virginia’s Children is a nonprofit organization committed to improving and protecting the lives of Virginia’s children, youth, and families. We believe every child should have equitable access to the resources, services and opportunities needed to thrive. For us, that means advocating for sound policies, educating the public, mobilizing communities, utilizing data to determine unmet needs, and leading with compassion. Our aim is to always close the systemic gaps that fail children, prioritize racial justice in policymaking, and ensure every voice has a role in shaping their future.