Loading...

Virginia’s Governor Removes Protections for Transgender Public School Students

September 22, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
Protesters outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. while the justices heard arguments on whether Title VII protections should apply to gay, lesbian and transgender individuals. (Photo by Dan McCue)

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s governor is facing threats of a major civil rights dispute after he announced this month that the state’s schools will no longer be required to accommodate special requests for transgender students.

All students will be allowed to access only the facilities and programs that match their gender at birth under the new policy.

Teachers will not be required to refer to transgender students by their preferred names or genders. In other words, teachers will not need to refer to previously male transgender students as “she” or “her” if the gender references violate “their constitutionally protected” free speech, the “model policies” say. 

In addition, the Department of Education is requiring that parents submit legal documentation to prove the need for their children to change their names or genders for school activities.

If students start showing signs of homosexual behavior, the policy says teachers would not be allowed to avoid disclosing it to parents who ask.

The policies will take effect Oct. 26 after a 30-day public comment period.

“These 2022 model policies reflect the department’s confidence in parents to prudently exercise their fundamental right under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Virginia Constitution to direct the upbringing, education, and control of their children,” the guidelines say. “This primary role of parents is well established and beyond debate. Empowering parents is essential to improving outcomes for children.”

The policies of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin reverse the policies of his Democratic predecessor, Ralph Northam. The previous guidelines published last year required that transgender students be granted access to bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities, regardless of what it was at birth.

Students also could participate in sports based on gender identity under the old policy. Teachers were required to use the students’ preferred gender pronouns.

Youngkin administration officials wrote that Northam’s policies “disregarded the rights of parents” and “have no further force and effect.”

Both governors said their guidelines were adopted to comply with a 2020 state law that required the Virginia Education Department to develop policies to protect transgender students. 

The law does not give details of what the policy should be. It says only that it should “address common issues regarding transgender students in accordance with evidence-based best practices and include information, guidance, procedures, and standards … ”

Youngkin’s 20-page document entitled “Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools” says the guidelines were developed to comply with the 2020 law.

Virginia Democrats responded with criticism.

Delegate Marcus Simon tweeted, “These new policies are cruel and not at all evidence based.”

Youngkin’s directive appears to conflict with recent federal court judgments that upheld protections for transgender persons. 

A 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County held that civil rights law protections cover transgender people. Also in 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a transgender student could use a high school boys’ bathroom, despite a school board policy that banned it.

The Fourth Circuit is based in Richmond, Virginia.

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com or on Twitter at @tramstack.

In The News

Health

Voting

Civil Rights

November 16, 2022
by Dan McCue
Senate Votes to Advance Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

WASHINGTON — A bill that would protect same-sex and interracial marriages cleared a major hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday... Read More

WASHINGTON — A bill that would protect same-sex and interracial marriages cleared a major hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday after 12 Republicans joined every Democrat in the chamber in voting to proceed with consideration of enshrining those unions under federal law. The 62-37 vote in... Read More

Same-Sex Marriage Faces Senate Test With GOP Votes Uncertain

WASHINGTON (AP) — Staring down the prospect of divided government in the next Congress, Senate Democrats are moving forward with legislation this... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Staring down the prospect of divided government in the next Congress, Senate Democrats are moving forward with legislation this week to protect same sex and interracial marriages. It’s a vote that’s “as personal as it gets,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. Schumer is holding... Read More

November 16, 2022
by Dan McCue
House Poised to Limit Use of NDAs in Workplace Harassment, Assault Cases

WASHINGTON — The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would limited the use of nondisclosure agreements... Read More

WASHINGTON — The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would limited the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims of workplace sexual assault and harassment. In a party line, 215 to 208 vote on Tuesday, members voted in favor  of a resolution... Read More

November 10, 2022
by Dan McCue
Supreme Court Justices Question Native American Adoption Law

WASHINGTON — For the second week in a row, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court showed that trying to... Read More

WASHINGTON — For the second week in a row, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court showed that trying to get the law right is a marathon, not a sprint. For roughly four hours on Wednesday, the justices weighed arguments in a consolidated challenge to Congress’... Read More

November 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
Abortions Declined 6% Nationwide in Immediate Aftermath of Dobbs Ruling

WASHINGTON — Legal abortions across the United States declined by more than 10,000, or about 6%, in the two months... Read More

WASHINGTON — Legal abortions across the United States declined by more than 10,000, or about 6%, in the two months after the Supreme Court overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which for five decades had guaranteed a woman's constitutional right to the procedure. Meanwhile, states... Read More

November 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
Supreme Court Seems Ready to Narrow Affirmative Action’s Role in College Admissions

WASHINGTON — For decades colleges and universities across the country have used affirmative action in their admissions programs to foster... Read More

WASHINGTON — For decades colleges and universities across the country have used affirmative action in their admissions programs to foster diversity on campus. On Monday, however, the conservative supermajority on the high court signaled they are ready to sharply curtail its use in the admission process,... Read More

News From The Well