Two Virginia Beach parents say the local school system is violating state law with its transgender policies. Now they’re taking the issue to court to try and force the school board’s hand. Here’s what’s happening.
Governor Leading the Way
In 2022, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin drafted new “model” policies intended to show schools throughout the state how to handle various issues surrounding transgender students.
Just in Time
Schools are encouraged to adopt these model policies in drafting their own procedures.
The new policies formally took place in July of 2023, just ahead of the new school year.
School Board Breaking the Law
But two parents already say that the Virginia Beach School Board is violating state law by not crafting their policies to conform with the governor’s guidance.
One and Done
At the crux of the case are Youngkin’s insistence on treating students across the board based on the gender they were assigned at birth.
Your Name Is Your Name
That means teachers are only supposed to call students by their birth names and use pronouns consistent with their birth sex assignment.
Teachers Have to Tell
Only a student’s “official name” is to be used at school unless parents make a written request to make other arrangements.
School personnel are also compelled to disclose any information about a student’s gender that comes to light at school to their parents.
Not Just Pronouns
The policies also have big consequences for extracurricular activities.
They Don’t Make the Cut
Chief among those are high school sports, where the governor says participation must be dictated by birth sex and not current gender identity.
For example, that nixes any plans transgender girls have to join the girls basketball team.
Not Following the Rules
But the two Virginia Beach parents say that, not only is the school board flouting the new rules, they’re creating a hostile environment for non-trans students and their parents.
Better Fall in Line
According to a statement from the parents, the district’s policies specifically call out punishment for students or teachers who refuse to “affirm gender transition.”
Locker Room Drama
Those policies also permit “biological boys…to use the girls’ locker room” if they identify as girls.
Don’t Cross the Streams
The latter of those in particular directly violates the governor’s orders, say the parents.
The model policies ban students from using the bathrooms or locker rooms intended for the opposite sex, regardless of gender identity.
Gridlock on the Board
Before jumping to a lawsuit, parents first worked with the school board to consider a resolution for amending district policies to align with the governor’s.
But that vote ended in a stalemate in August, so now the parents are moving forward.
They Must Make Changes
As they undertake their court battle, the two parents are seeking to force the school board to update their policies to match state recommendations.
No More Punishments
They also want the current putative policies removed so that students do not face punishment for using the wrong pronouns, for example.
No Clear Guidance
Critics of the state policies say that one major stumbling block is that there is no clear indication of how school districts should go about coming into line with the governor’s new models.
Plenty of Debate Ahead
That’s just one of many points of argument likely to come to the front as court proceedings unfold.
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