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Youngkin proposes new rules for transgender students in Virginia

Virginia's Department of Education updated its guidelines on its treatment of transgender students.

NORFOLK, Va. — Governor Glenn Youngkin is re-writing education policies when it comes to Virginia transgender students. 

In a proposed change, school leaders would have to roll back accommodations made for transgender students and tighten parental notifications. 

Community leaders are now responding. Tarena Williams, the founder of Southeastern Transgender Resource Center, said she created her organization to protect people from policies just like this. Williams said this proposed move puts more transgender students at risk.

"What we are going to have is a lot of people running away from schools, a lot of people running away from homes, because they don't feel accepted," said Williams.  "Then I'm going to have a house full of people where I can't house anymore because they are scared!"

In this proposed change, all students would have to use the bathroom and locker room that is based on their biological sex. The same goes for all students who participate on teams that align with their sex assigned at birth. 

There is also more discussion on parental rights and the role of the parent with regard to transgender children. 

In the document, teachers cannot hide information about a child's gender orientation from parents. Parents would also be able to object to counseling services given to their children about gender. 

"If you are a trans person then you are a target," said Williams. "I don't want what happened to me to happen to others, which was abuse from people who refused to understand who I am."

Across Hampton Roads, school divisions also responded to the news of the proposed policy changes.

In Hampton City, a spokesperson released a statement saying: "Hampton City Schools has several School Board Policies that address nondiscrimination with respect to all protected classes under local, state and federal law, to include gender identity. Once the 2022 Model Policies become effective, we will make any changes if needed in our guidelines to ensure we are in compliance with state code."

In Suffolk, a spokesperson released a statement saying: "Suffolk Public Schools is reviewing the current guidelines from Governor Youngkin and will wait for the outcomes of the public comment at the state level before we make any adjustments. Our school division also has plans to discuss this at an upcoming policy meeting."

If Youngkin's proposed policy is approved, then it will be in effect starting October 27 this year. However, there is first a 30-day public comment period and it is available on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall website.


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