In addition to Republican-led legislative bodies trying to restrict talk of race and slavery in the classroom, there’s also been an equal push to stifle the lives of the LGBTQ+ community severely. Over 200 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed this year in 40 states, according to the LGBTQ rights group Freedom For All Americans. Some of these have limited discussions about gender entirely. In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration looks to undo the protections made under previous Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam in schools.
According to CNBC, the Virginia Department of Education under Youngkin has rewritten model policies for treating transgender students. The new rules will affect more than one million children in the state.
Here are some of the new potential policies students will have to deal with:
- Students must only use bathrooms and locker rooms associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.
- Students who want to participate in a sport or other extracurricular activities must only participate in teams that align with the sex assigned at birth.
- A student’s legal name and sex can’t be changed “even upon the written instruction of a parent or eligible student” without an official legal document or court order.
- Teachers and other school officials can only refer to a student by their pronouns associated with their sex at birth.
The University of UCLA’s study notes there are 6,200 transgender children in Virginia. Previously, former Gov. Northam said schools should let students use names and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without “any substantiating evidence.” The Virginia Department of Education claims these new rules support “the rights of parents” to determine their child’s exposure to LGBTQ issues. However, Virginia Delegate Danica Roem claims Youngkin is violating the Virginia Human Rights Act.
Rivka Vizcardo-Lichter, a sophomore at Oakton High School and leader of the Pride Liberation Project, spoke about the dangers these new policies pose.
From ABC WIJA 7:
“I’ve spoken to students terrified that these protections will be removed and that their peers will be put at risk for depression, harassment, suicide,” Vizcardo-Lichter said. “These proposed regulations are only going to hurt the mental health of transgender students. Using a student’s true pronoun and name has consistently been shown to prevent suicide and depression. Denying that autonomy to students only worsens the mental health crisis.”
A 30-day public comment period opens later this month, and citizens can speak on the guidance. The Virginia Board of Education is looking to put these policies into effect on October 27.