Hanover School Board passes transgender bathroom, locker room policy

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 7:38 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2022 at 10:48 PM EDT
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HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - In a 5-2 vote, the Hanover County School Board passed the transgender bathroom and locker room policy for students Tuesday evening.

Before the meeting even started, dozens were gathered outside the school board building, hoping to give one last message to the board before a vote was taken.

“Come on back to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) model policy that was written and intended for protection of children, not harm of children,” a speaker in opposition of the policy said.

Once the meeting started, some board members discussed how they felt the policy was imperfect and wanted to make an amendment.

“I do think some of the language that’s included in the policy, in my opinion, should be deleted. I believe that the criminal background piece should be deleted from the bulleted items,” Robert Hundley, who represents the Chickahominy District, said.

However, the motion failed, and the board went on to approve the policy in a 5-2 vote.

The new policy 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, a student, along with their parent or legal guardian, must submit to school administration 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 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. The proposal outlines additional items the school board must consider.

It’s a decision those in favor of the policy are happy about, including Terra Lawrence, who has four kids in Hanover County Schools.

”I feel really pleased with the decision. I do feel like it encompasses parental rights, it encompasses privacy rights for our students, so I’m really happy about it,” Lawrence said.

While those in opposition to the policy said, they were not surprised with the outcome.

Patricia Jordan with the Hanover County NAACP said she was surprised Hundley tried to make an amendment.

She said the criminal background check is one of the most controversial parts of the policy and feels it’s unnecessary.

“As you may well know, we’ve had issues here with the recent football team,” Jordan said. “They’re not asking for background checks on any of those players or anybody, but they want background checks on people who have done absolutely nothing and just want to be in school.”

Chairman John Axselle said the policy can always be amended.

“We welcome input from the community, we really do, or we wouldn’t have so many public comment times, and we heard from them, and the board had heard from numerous people pro and con,” Axselle said. “So we heard from both sides, and I think the board it speaks for itself. The board decided to adopt the policy.”

The board did clarify students who have had similar requests in the past do not need to undergo this new process.