Action Hub: Protecting Trans and Nonbinary Kids

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recently published proposed policies to replace the existing model policies for the treatment of transgender students in Virginia's public schools. All public schools were supposed to adopt the existing trans-affirming policies by the 2021-2022 school year. Instead VDOE has replaced those policies with proposed policies that seek to erase transgender and nonbinary youth from schools, creating a hostile and potentially dangerous environment.

While alarming, the proposed model policies are not in effect! They must go through a 30-day public comment period before they can be implemented. The comment period is open now and closes on October 26. If you support transgender and nonbinary youth, the most important step you can take is to submit a comment opposing the proposed policies. We need to make it clear that an overwhelming number of Virginians oppose these transphobic policies.

What the policies do

The proposed policies seek to erase transgender and non-binary youth from the classrooms, creating a hostile and potentially dangerous school environment. 

trans rights colored background of azure blue, white, and pink, with a screenshot of Youngkin admin's anti-trans model policies that read: "Virginia Department of Education. 2022 Model Policies on the privacy, dignity, and respect for all students."

The proposed policies will create actual harm to transgender and nonbinary students. The proposed policies:

  • Require teachers and school staff to forcibly "out" students to their parents against their will in some circumstances, such as when a student seeks gender related counseling; and allows teachers and school staff to refuse to provide counseling.
  • Prohibit teachers and school staff from supporting transgender and non-binary students, such as using a student's affirming name and pronouns; and outright prevents the use of gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them.
  • Create bathroom and sports policies that prohibit access to and/or participation in activities consistent with their gender identity.

Submit a comment:

While alarming, the proposed model policies are not in effect! They must go through a 30-day public comment period before they may be adopted.

water-colored background of blue, white, pink with a laptop illustration & the text "submit a public comment"
  • The comment period is open now and closes on October 26. 
  • The most important first step is to submit a comment opposing the proposed policies and make clear to VDOE that an overwhelming number of Virginians oppose these transphobic policies.
  • Tell the VDOE: These proposed model policies are contrary to state law and will be extremely harmful to transgender and nonbinary kids. Protect trans and nonbinary kids. RESCIND these model policies. 
  • Once you have filed your comment, forward the comment link to your friends, family, and colleagues, and ask them to add their comments of support for transgender and non-binary students. 

NEW: Check out the ACLU-VA's official comment.

Attend local school board meetings

Then, attend your school board’s next meeting and let them know how the proposed model policies will detrimentally impact transgender and nonbinary youth.

water-colored background of blue, white, pink with a dialogue box with the following text "trans and nonbinary youth have the support of this parent."
  • You can find out when your school board next meets and how to sign up for public comment via Equality Virginia’s School Board Policy Tracker.
  • The stakes are high. Should the proposed policies be implemented and school boards adopt them, transgender and non-binary students could face increased bullying, discrimination, abuse, and even homelessness.
  • But the fight is not over, even if the model policies are adopted, they will have no direct effect on students until the school districts themselves adopt/amend their own policies. 

  • If you are a trans or queer student, or if you have a trans or queer kid attending school in Virginia, He She Ze and We and Side by Side Virginia provide resources and safe & affirming spaces for youth.