Bill seeks a state model policy for transgender Virginia students

Bill seeks a state model policy for transgender Virginia students
A policy was proposed to allow transgender high school students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

A bill before the General Assembly this year would require the state Department of Education to develop model policies for issues affecting transgender students.

The proposed legislation comes as disparate school policies across the state have contributed to lawsuits brought against school systems and as transgender Virginians gain visibility in schools.

The bill, proposed by Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, and Delegate-elect Joshua Cole, D-Stafford, would require the model policies to cover non-discrimination laws, bullying and harassment, protecting students’ privacy, sex-based dress codes and identifying students. The policies would have to be developed by the end of 2020.

Currently each school creates its own policy, often when parents of transgender students bring it to administrators’ attention, Simon said.

“There’s no manual for folks to turn to to say, ‘Hey, what do I do when I’m confronted with a transgender child in my school or in my classroom?’” he said. “Creating a consistent policy that’s a good resource for teachers and administrators also creates some predictability, stability for families.”

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.