The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has issued new rules for public schools, telling local school boards to “eliminate gender-based practices” to accommodate “transgender students.”
The 27-page Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools was developed after the state enacted legislation requiring the VDOE to “develop and make available … model policies concerning the treatment of transgender students.”
As a preview to how radical the document is, on its third and fourth pages, nearly three dozen people are acknowledged for providing “input” and “expertise” in development of the policies. Directly after their names are listed, their preferred pronouns are included.
For example, Rebecca Askew, a senior policy analyst at the VDOE, goes by “she/her” pronouns. And Vee Lamneck, the executive director of an LGBT advocacy group, goes by “they/them” pronouns.
The rules go on to define “gender identity” as people’s “internal sense of their own identity as a boy/man, girl/woman, another gender, no gender, or outside the male/female binary.”
The first troubling aspect of the document states that when a student publicly shares his or her gender identity, “schools should work proactively to set clear boundaries about being gender inclusive and respond to negative reactions from the school community should they arise.”
This seems to indicate that the VDOE is recommending schools train students and staff to be “gender inclusive” and to squash any opposing viewpoints. School administrators, teachers and others could encourage students to use someone’s preferred pronouns contrary to their biological sex.
The recommendation is reminiscent of a similar event in 2017 when a teacher at Rocklin Academy read two pro-transgender books, including I Am Jazz, to her kindergarten class. During the incident, a transgender student “at some point during class also changed clothes and was revealed as her true gender,” CBS News reported at the time.
At a local school board meeting following the incident, one parent said, “My daughter came home crying and shaking so afraid she could turn into a boy.”
Regarding the VDOE’s new guidance, of specific concern is its recommendation that school staff should keep a student’s disclosed gender identity a secret from their parents if the student doesn’t wish for them to know.
“If a student is not ready or able to safely share with their family about their gender identity, this should be respected,” the guidance notes. “There are no regulations requiring school staff to notify a parent or guardian of a student’s request to affirm their gender identity.”
Candi Cushman, Vice President of The Family Foundation of Virginia, told The Daily Citizen that this guidance is an attempt by the state government to force every K-12 school “to adopt a radicalized form of transgender advocacy into every component of school life.”
“The policy gives instructions to schools on how to deceive parents … [it] directly spells out how schools can hide a child’s transgender identity from parents, such as making it a point to use different names and pronouns at school from those used in the presence of the parents,” Cushman added.
Additionally, the guidance asserts that school officials should affirm a student’s preferred gender identity by using whatever pronouns the student prefers.
“When a student asserts that they have a name and/or pronoun affirming their gender identity, school staff should abide by the student’s wishes as to how to address the student,” the document states. This includes made up pronouns like “ze/hir/hirs.”
Of immense concern is the document’s guidance that school employees must address students with the pronouns that they wish, and that the refusal to do so is “discriminatory.”
“In accepting employment with a school district, a school staff member agrees to abide by and uphold their school board’s policies and procedures, as well as federal and state laws … A school employee’s intentional and persistent refusal to respect a student’s name and pronoun is considered discriminatory,” the document states.
This government-coerced speech code could lead to a Christian teacher being fired for refusing to use pronouns that are contrary to a student’s biology.
The guidance also stipulates that many “gender-specific” practices should be eliminated. These include:
- Gender-specific attire. For example, schools should no longer require “that girls must wear dresses and boys must wear ties” for formal events.
- Homecoming and prom courts.
- Father-daughter dances.
Next, the document mandates that biological boys be allowed to stay in the same hotel room as biological girls, and vice versa, on overnight field trips – if they identify as the opposite sex. It also says that schools should not “force the [transgender] student into single-occupancy accommodations” as a compromise.
Furthermore, the guidance, in effect, recommends the elimination of sex-specific facilities, like bathrooms and locker rooms, since it states that students should be allowed to use the facility that corresponds with their “gender identity.”
The rules also note that to comply with the state’s legislation, schools must “adopt policies consistent with model policies contained in this document no later than the 2021-2022 school year.”
This means that the document is more a dictum than a guidance. Additionally, school boards “may adopt more comprehensive policies” than those outlined in the model policies.
Clearly, the new “model policies” adopted by the VDOE put the desires of a small group of people, transgender-identified students, over the rights and concerns of many others.
“People nationwide should be aware that these steamroll tactics will not stay confined to Virginia,” Cushman also told The Daily Citizen. “If there is not a general outcry among local communities, educators and elected representatives, you will continue to see this expand state by state.”
Focus on the Family is here to help you navigate the tough landscape of today’s public school environment. That’s why we’ve created a helpful new resource, Back to School: For Parents, which provides busy parents with practical steps to protect their children. You can access it for free, here.
For more information on this issue from The Family Foundation, click here.
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