Hanover School Board set to discuss proposal on transgender bathroom, locker room policy

The proposal will be introduced to school board members during their meeting on Aug. 9.
The proposal details a process transgender students would need to follow if they request access to a bathroom, locker room, or changing facility that aligns wit
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT
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HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - Next Tuesday, a policy proposal will be introduced to members of the Hanover School Board detailing a process transgender students would follow if they request access to use bathrooms, locker rooms or changing facilities that align with their gender identity.

The document, posted on next Tuesday’s agenda for the Hanover School Board, details the potential process students and families would need to follow.

The proposal states, “If a student who identifies as transgender requests access to restrooms, locker rooms or changing facilities that align with their gender identity but not their sex, the following process will be utilized to evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis.”

In addition, the proposal outlines the information a student, along with their parent or legal guardian, must submit to school administration along with a written request to the principal of the school where the student attends.

The proposal outlines the information as the following:

  • a statement from the student that, among other things, specifies their gender identity and how they have consistently, persistently and insistently expressed that identity
  • signed statements from the student’s personal physician, therapist or licensed counselor verifying that the student has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and/or that the student consistently and authentically expresses a binary gender identity
  • statements from the student’s parent or guardian;
  • student disciplinary or criminal records
  • information related to the privacy and safety of other students
  • any other relevant information, including documents from other interested parties.

Once this information is collected, the school’s principal will provide a written summary of this request and the supporting documents. This would all be considered by the school board, who would have “final authority to approve or decline the request.”

For access to locker rooms and changing facilities, students and their families would follow the same process used to consider requests for restrooms. Additionally, the proposal outlines additional items the school board must consider.

  • the physical design of the facilities to which access is requested
  • whether students appear in a state of undress in the facilities
  • whether there are a sufficient number of single-user stalls to accommodate students’ privacy interests given time constraints imposed by the activity for which the facilities are being used
  • any other factors relevant to preserving student privacy and safety.

The proposal states that if denied, the student and their parent or legal guardian may re-submit their request if the student’s circumstances “materially change.”

This proposal comes after the ACLU of Virginia filed a lawsuit against the Hanover School Board last year over the board’s failure to implement a new bathroom policy that accommodates transgender students. State law mandated school districts make the accommodation, but the school board members voted it down on Nov. 9, 2021. In the past, the school board has said it could not comment on pending litigation.

“The ACLU of Virginia opposes a proposed policy that the school board will be considering on Tuesday,” said Breanna Diaz, policy counsel with the ACLU of Virginia. “Not only does the policy single out transgender and non-binary students, again denying them full access to facilities consistent with their gender identity, but it also places a rigorous and unnecessary process that is rooted in many assumptions around a student’s access to health care, gender-affirming health care, living in a supportive house, as well as rooted in a reactive and untrue understanding of transgender and nonbinary youth that they are predators.”

Diaz also believes the proposed policy would place unnecessary burdens on students and families.

“Rooted under our assumptions that they have access to all these things that they don’t, it’s completely unnecessary,” Diaz told NBC12. “I have serious concerns with folks questioning the legitimacy of a young person’s identity.”

“While we appreciate what the Hanover County School Board is trying to do, which is proposed policies, limited policies case-by-case basis that would allow a student to use the bathroom or changing facility of the opposite sex. We do have concerns that this could be going beyond what a current a recent court case, Grimm, had required or held,” said Todd Gathje, a Hanover parent and representative from the Family Foundation. “We do have some reservations about exactly the extent to which these policies and procedures can be applied.”

Gathje also adds there is room for more conversations to take place over this policy but does understand what is trying to be achieved.

“Making sure there are limitations and protections in there because again, we’ve got to protect the bodily privacy and safety of the students,” Gathje told NBC12.

NBC12 also reached out to Hanover County School board members for comment on the proposal.

Hanover School Board Chair John Axselle responded by saying this item has not yet been formally presented to the school board for consideration since the meeting has not occurred yet. Axselle adds, “As a result, we have not had an opportunity to publicly discuss the proposed policy. Therefore, it would be premature for the School Board to comment on this item in advance of our meeting.”

This agenda item will be presented to the Hanover School board during their meeting on Aug. 9.

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