Virginia governor discusses new education model policies

Virginia governor discusses new education model policies
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 5:50 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Late last week, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration released a new set of model policies for Virginia Public Schools when it comes to transgender students and parental rights.

The new guidelines will replace the 2021 model policies for the treatment of transgender students.

The 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for all Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools is focused on keeping parents involved in major decisions in schools.

“This is just part of an overall fundamental belief that parents need to be deeply engaged in their children’s lives, their education, their well-being, their upbringing, that’s where parents need to be engaged,” said Youngkin in an interview with WHSV on Tuesday.

The new guidelines include policies like preventing school staff from concealing information about a child’s gender identity from parents.

“It’s not to exclude teachers, counselors, and administrators, but parents should be the first place and then they should be working together for the child’s benefit,” said Youngkin.

Other policies include requiring staff to refer to students only by the name and pronouns that appear in their official record unless otherwise instructed by a parent; as well as informing and giving parents a chance to object before any counseling on a child’s gender identity is offered.

“When circumstances present themselves and there is a child who is in fact considering this kind of issue parents should be notified and engaged. I think that’s just the best thing for the children of Virginia,” said Youngkin.

Some school divisions like Rockingham County Public Schools either have or are considering similar policies, but the new state guidelines will trump any conflicting policies that may be in place at the local level.

“Roughly 90% of the Commonwealth’s school divisions have not finalized their policies and as a result, I think this gives everyone a chance to comply with what is a state law. We issue model policies and divisions need to adopt final policies consistent with those model policies,” said Youngkin.

Youngkin said that the previous administration in Richmond had a policy that discouraged parental involvement which he said isn’t right.

“Here I think we’ve brought together these most important elements: protecting the safety, the dignity, and the opportunity for all children to have an education that speaks to them as an individual, keeps them safe and protects their confidentiality,” he said.

The new model policies set strict guidelines for protecting student and parent confidentiality and prohibit discrimination of any kind.

“At the heart of this model policy is loving every student and making sure they understand there is zero tolerance, zero, for any kind of discrimination, harassment, or bullying,” said Youngkin.

Virginia School Divisions will have 30 days to review the new model policies at which point they will have to adopt their own final policies that reflect the guidelines.