Several Northern Virginia school districts have responded this week to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new policies restricting the rights of transgender students at public schools in the commonwealth.
The governor's administration on Friday announced that school districts will be required to restrict which bathrooms transgender students may use. The new policies also state that students will be called only by the names appearing in their official records and only by the pronouns corresponding to the sex listed in those records.
Legal experts told News4 these policies likely violate both state and federal law.
Several school districts have released statements sharing messages of inclusion for LGBTQ students, and some also said they would release more detailed responses in the future. Some statements also mentioned the new policies' 30-day public comment period, which begins Sept. 26. Comments can be made at the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall website.
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Here is what some Northern Virginia school districts said about the new policies:
Alexandria City Public Schools
In a letter sent to families and staff addressing the new policies, Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt, Alexandria City Public Schools' interim superintendent, said ACPS will continue to implement gender-affirming policies for all students despite the new restrictions.
"We are concerned with these 'model policies' that do not align with our mission, vision and core values to support all students and staff,” Kay-Wyatt said.
Read the ACPS statement in its entirety below (or click/tap here to view larger):
Arlington Public Schools
Arlington Public Schools' Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán and School Board Chair Reid Goldstein said in a statement Tuesday that they are reviewing the proposed policy changes.
“We value the many diverse identities within our schools, where every student can authentically express themselves, including those in the LGBTQIA+ community,” their statement said.
Read the APS statement in its entirety below:
"Arlington Public Schools (APS) continues to support the rights of our transgender, non-binary, and gender fluid students and remains committed to providing school environments that are welcoming, safe and supportive for all students. We are aware of and are reviewing the proposed Virginia model policy changes announced Friday evening, September 16. These proposed Virginia model policies are scheduled for a 30-day public comment period beginning September 26.
It is important for our community to know that Policy J-2 Student Equal Educational Opportunities/Nondiscrimination and Policy Implementation Procedure J-2 PIP-2 Transgender Students in Schools remain in effect. APS will continue to uphold our core mission and policies to ensure that every child receives equal educational access and opportunities. We value the many diverse identities within our schools, where every student can authentically express themselves, including those in the LGBTQIA+ community. APS continues to take seriously the privilege and responsibility of working towards a shared understanding and mutual respect for all people.
If students feel they need further support, they may reach out to their school counselor, school psychologist, or school social worker. Additional resources for transgender, non-binary, and gender fluid youth may be found at the Arlington County LGBTQIA+ Resources website. If families have any additional questions or concerns, they may also reach out to their child’s school. APS will continue to update the community with any new information."
Falls Church City Public Schools
In a joint statement, Superintendent Peter Noonan and School Board Chair Laura Downs from Falls Church City Public Schools (FCCPS) said their team is currently analyzing the policies.
“We believe all students deserve a community that promotes inclusion and celebrates authenticity and assure you that FCCPS will maintain consistency with settled law and our adopted nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies,” they said.
Read the FCCPS statement in its entirety below:
"Late Friday night, the Washington Post published an article referring to the new “Model Policies” that have been developed by the Virginia Department of Education (Virginia policy latest attempt to restrict rights of transgender students). The article indicates that Governor Youngkin seeks to roll back current privacy protections and practices for transgender students.
The FCCPS School Board wants to assure our community that we value and support every student in our charge. We have codified our stance with respect to nondiscrimination and anti-harassment in numerous School Board policies, including Policy AB - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Policy AC - Nondiscrimination, and will continue to ensure that all students are treated with dignity and respect in our schools. We are committed to following the Virginia Human Rights Act and the settled law of Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, 972 F.3d 586 (4th. Cir. 2020), which requires respect for the gender identity of transgender students just like any other student in FCCPS.
We have received the “Model Policies'' from the Virginia Department of Education, and our team is doing its analysis. As a Board and school division, we will watch this very closely during the public comment period set to open on September 26th. If you wish to add a comment during the comment period, here is the link https://townhall.virginia.gov/ . We believe all students deserve a community that promotes inclusion and celebrates authenticity and assure you that FCCPS will maintain consistency with settled law and our adopted nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies."
Fairfax County Public Schools
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid said in a letter to families that the school district is reviewing the new policy and will share a more detailed response to the policy in the future.
“Please be assured that FCPS remains committed to an inclusive learning environment for each and every student and staff member and that our schools will continue to be safe and respectful learning spaces,” Reid said.
Read the FCPS statement in its entirety below:
"Dear FCPS Families,
On Friday evening, we became aware of a new proposed model policy from the Virginia Department of Education regarding the privacy, dignity, and respect for all students, staff, and families in Virginia’s public schools. The newly proposed model policy is scheduled for a 30-day public comment period starting September 26.
I understand the concerns that our LGBTQIA+ staff, student, and family community have about what this change of direction by the state may mean for our school division. Please be assured that FCPS remains committed to an inclusive learning environment for each and every student and staff member and that our schools will continue to be safe and respectful learning spaces.
Here at Fairfax County Public Schools, we are dedicated to providing a caring climate and culture where each and every student, staff member, and family is welcomed, respected, valued, and supported, as they experience a deep sense of belonging.
Our core beliefs and mission hold that:
Fairfax County Public Schools inspires and empowers students to meet high academic standards, lead healthy, ethical lives, and be responsible and innovative global citizens:
- Each student is entitled to an excellent education that meets his or her individual needs.
- Everyone thrives in a vibrant, healthful, safe, enriching, and respectful environment.
- Our diversity is a strength that creates resilient, open, and innovative global citizens.
These core values and beliefs speak to the very heart of who we are at Fairfax County Public Schools, and our students, staff, and families, are counting on us to adhere to them. These core values - to enhance school safety and create a fair, equitable, and supportive school environment - are also outlined in the 2022-23 Student Rights and Responsibilities.
We will be thoroughly reviewing the new state proposed model policy in the coming days and will share a more detailed response to the newly proposed policy soon. In the meantime, we remain committed to maintaining equitable opportunities and access for each of our students, staff, and families in a justice-centered, future-focused, and student-driven school environment."
Loudoun County Public Schools
Loudoun County Public Schools did not have a comment on the new policies.
Prince William County Public Schools
Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) told News4 the school district is evaluating the model policies and will evaluate any revisions to its current policies that may be needed to remain in compliance with state and federal laws.
"PWCS remains committed to its nondiscrimination policy inclusive of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. PWCS supports an inclusive environment for all students and staff," the school district's statement said.
Read the PWCS statement in its entirety below:
"PWCS is aware that at the close of business on Friday, September 16, 2022, the Virginia Department of Education released its revised "2022 Model Policies" regarding the treatment of transgender students. Like every school division, PWCS is currently evaluating the model policies and will evaluate any revisions to its current policies and procedures that may be needed to remain in compliance with state and federal law. PWCS remains committed to its nondiscrimination policy inclusive of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. PWCS supports an inclusive environment for all students and staff."
NBC Washington will continue to update this article as more statements are released.