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A school board in Virginia isn’t going along to get along.
The Commonwealth has published its Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools, and the guidance makes things abundantly clear.
“The Department of Education,” it says, “shall develop and make available to each school board model policies concerning the treatment of transgender students in public elementary and secondary schools that address common issues…”
This, “in accordance with evidence-based best practices.”
- Compliance with applicable nondiscrimination laws
- Maintenance of a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students
- Prevention of and response to bullying and harassment
- Maintenance of student records
- Identification of students
- Protection of student privacy and the confidentiality of sensitive information
- Enforcement of sex-based dress codes; and 8. Student participation in sex-specific school activities, events, and use of school facilities.
The handbook lays out a bevy of sexual-identity terms, such as “cisgender,” “sex assignment,” and “gender-expansive/gender-diverse/gender-fluid/gender-nonbinary/agender/genderqueer.”
As stated, all public schools are required to “adopt policies that are consistent with but maybe more comprehensive than the model policies developed by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).”
So what’s the conclusion of the department?
Brass tacks, concerning access:
All students are entitled to have access to restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities that are sanitary, safe, and adequate so that they can comfortably and fully engage in their school programs and activities. Schools frequently maintain separate restrooms, locker rooms, or other facilities for males and females. Students should be allowed to use the facility that corresponds to their consistently asserted gender identity.
And under “Student Identification”:
School divisions should accept a student’s assertion of their gender identity without requiring any particular substantiating evidence, including diagnosis, treatment, or legal documents.
We’ve come quite a ways: Just decades ago, Hollywood was cranking out hormonal hits like Porky’s and Zapped! — Rated-R dives into male adolescent fantasies of gaining access to girls’ shower rooms.
As indicated by Virginia’s “best practices,” such can now be attained through sheer consistency of assertion.
But one county in a state not much known for right-wing moves is staunchly opposed: The Russell County School Board voted unanimously last week to reject the VDOE’s policy.
Per WCYB, “Board members said it was their job to protect all students, and they believe the school district is already in compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws.”
That followed what PJ Media called “outrage from [the] community.”
One resident at the meeting, as quoted by the Washington Examiner:
“We do not hate transgender people. We do not hate homosexual people. We do not judge them. God will judge them. We hate the sin that they live, and that is the problem that we have in the community today, is that [it is] trying to be pushed on all of our children.”
Via a statement to News5, school board member Bob Gibson put it thusly:
“I was elected by the people of this community and I intend to stand up to protect every kid and do the will of the people of Russell County—and not that of an overreaching state government. The most important thing we can do is protect every kid and to provide them with a safe and secure place to learn.”
Found Freedoms Law Center attorney Josh Hetzler took to the podium:
“The policies themselves violated various state and federal laws, including infringing upon numerous fundamental rights of students, parents, and teachers. Because of how legally problematic these model policies are, not to mention the likelihood of tangible harms to student’s bodily, privacy, safety, and dignity in private spaces, [the] school board simply cannot adopt policies consistent with the existing model policy.”
Per the Examiner, the VDOE’s unimpressed:
The Virginia Department of Education alluded that the school board’s move was likely in violation of the law.
The board emailed the outlet, asserting, “It is the responsibility of the local school board to follow the law.”
On the 12th, parents in Rockingham County spoke out as well.
One man signaled to science:
“Biologically, scientifically — when a child is born a male, he never, ever, will biologically or scientifically be female. That’s the facts. When a girl is born a girl, she can never biologically or scientifically become a boy. … You can argue it. You can yell about it. You can fuss about it. You can do anything you want about it, but those are the facts.”
And a mother threatened to pull her kid:
“My son will not be attending Rockingham County schools. I will choose to homeschool him if this policy is adopted. It will not be easy to homeschool, as I’m sure it will be very financially tough, but I will stand for what is right.”
Virginia is a small view into what’s happening across the country.
As I’ve said before, we’re in the midst of a cultural revolution.
But revolution comes, commonly, by war. And millions of Americans aren’t desirous of change.
I can’t help but think the nation is headed toward more contentious times.
As the saying goes, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Perhaps much, much worse.