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Virginia Beach School Board postpones transgender policy vote

The board said it needs to go through prior review with its members.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia Beach City Public School Board has decided to postpone its transgender non-discrimination policy vote that was originally scheduled for Tuesday night. 

The school board said it must go through a prior review with board members before the vote. Otherwise, they will be going against the board's by-laws. 

Crowds of parents and residents gathered outside the School Administration building where the meeting was held. 

Despite the postponement of the vote, the board still opened up the microphone for public comment. 

Approximately 30 people spoke at the podium, expressing their sides of why they believe the policy should or should not be put in place. Many of them made emotional and heated statements.

The policy goes under the already existing anti-bullying and non-discrimination rules within the school division. However, this new policy still waiting for a vote aims to help protect transgender students.

The policy would allow any student who identifies as a specific gender to use either restroom or locker room. 

It would also incorporate rules such as teachers using students' preferred pronouns and creating safe resources for these students to seek help if they need it. 

The policy would make it so the Superintendent of the school would be able to make decisions without needing prior approval from the board. 

Many parents argued this part of the policy, saying they don't want big decisions made within the school without parental consent.

"I respect the superintendent to be able to make decisions for his schools, but matters that directly or could directly impact a parent's God-given stewardship of their children should not be placed in the hands of any one individual," said one father of a Virginia Beach City Public School student.

Meanwhile, others asked for rules to be put in place to help create a more accepting atmosphere, saying, "they are people, just like you and I. They need to be provided safety and dignity just like everyone else."

The vote is now scheduled to take place at the next formal meeting, not during a special session. 

New state law requires boards to pass policies to protect students who don't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth before the start of the school year.

On Monday, the Chesapeake School Board chose not to vote on the proposal, while last week Newport News' school board voted against the policies but will call a special meeting to reconsider.

Portsmouth Public Schools voted in favor of establishing the policy earlier this summer.

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