Sep 21, 2022 - News

Northern Va. schools push back on policy targeting trans students

Photo: Craig Hudson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Northern Virginia schools are reassuring families that they are committed to supporting trans students, despite a new proposed state policy that would restrict the rights of those students.

Why it matters: This isn’t the first time Northern Virginia school districts have rebelled against policies handed down by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

  • Earlier this year, Northern Virginia schools defied the end of the state’s mask requirement in schools.

Context: The new model policies posted last Friday instruct school districts to restrict students to programs and bathroom facilities that correspond with their assigned sex at birth, Axios’ Ned Oliver reports.

  • The policies would also make it difficult for students to change their names and pronouns in school records and would bar districts from requiring staff to adhere to those changes.

Yes, but: Several Northern Virginia school districts have expressed concerns to families in letters sent in the past few days that the policies are inconsistent with their school mission.

A Loudoun County Schools spokesperson told Axios they have not corresponded with families on the proposed policy.

What they’re saying: The Alexandria school board, for example, wrote to families that it will continue to implement “gender affirming policies,” pointing out that the school has a 2013 nondiscrimination policy recognizing gender identity and gender expression as protected classes.

  • Arlington Public Schools in a letter to families also noted a similar policy, protecting trans students.
  • Fairfax County Schools told families that its district remains an “inclusive learning environment.”’

Between the lines: While the policy is framed as mandatory, there’s no state enforcement mechanism if local school boards don’t adopt the policy.

  • Only 10% of local school districts ever adopted the trans-friendly version of these model policies put in place by then-Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration, per the Virginia Mercury.

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