Connect with us

Virginia

Student activists picket Loudoun Co. School Board

Members of the Pride Liberation Project call for ‘trans rights now’

Published

on

Members of the Pride Liberation Project hold signs supporting trans rights during a Loudoun County School Board meeting on Tuesday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A group of student activists from the Pride Liberation Project picketed in front of the Loudoun County School Board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 9 in Ashburn, Va. Members of the group chanted, “trans rights now” in front of the administrative building at the start of the session.

Loudoun County Public Schools student activist Daniel Tanedjaja told the Blade, “I am here in solidarity and support for our trans and gender non-conforming students here. In actuality, a lot of our trans and gender non-conforming kids at Loudoun County Schools don’t know that there is a gender neutral bathroom option and I would like the school to make it more accessible to them.”

Activists were seated during the community input portion of the school board meeting. Some of the protesters held up signs supporting trans rights during anti-LGBTQ public comments at the podium by conservative community activists.

The Pride Liberation Project is a Northern Virginia-based student-led organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Virginia

New Va. guidelines stipulates parental input on transgender kids

State Department of Education released them on Friday

Published

on

(Bigstock photo)

Virginia’s Department of Education released its new guidelines Friday that require school administrators, faculty and staff receive written permission from parents regarding embracing or recognizing a transgender student’s gender identity.

With the release, the Department of Education’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools (the “2021 Model Policies,”) adopted on March 4, 2021, was effectively repealed and replaced. The emphasis in Friday’s document was centered on “parental rights.” The new set of guidelines also took aim at the 2021 guidance noting:

The 2021 Model Policies promoted a specific viewpoint aimed at achieving cultural and
social transformation in schools. The 2021 Model Policies also disregarded the rights of parents and ignored other legal and constitutional principles that significantly impact how schools educate students, including transgender students. With the publication of these 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools (the “2022 Model Policies,”) the department hereby withdraws the 2021 Model Policies, which shall have no further force and effect
.”

The language reflects a campaign promise by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin to respect parental rights in public education. LGBTQ advocates however, expressed alarm over the section reading:

The phrase ‘transgender student’ shall mean a public school student whose parent has requested in writing, due to their child’s persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs with his or her sex, that their child be so identified while at school,” the guidelines read.

Parents are in the best position to work with their children … to determine (a) what names, nicknames, and/or pronouns, if any, shall be used for their child by teachers and school staff while their child is at school, (b) whether their child engages in any counseling or social transition at school that encourages a gender that differs from their child’s sex, or (c) whether their child expresses a gender that differs with their child’s sex while at school,” the policy continues.”

A trans activist who has children enrolled in the Fairfax County School District, the state’s largest school system and who asked to not be identified, told the Washington Blade that in effect, a trans youth who is not openly out to family effectively would be forcibly outed which would cause serious harm in most cases.

The other aspect the activist noted that the guidelines effectively require school staff and faculty to misgender trans students.

Excepts:

[School Division] personnel shall refer to each student using only (i) the name that appears in the student’s official record, or (ii) if the student prefers, using any nickname commonly associated with the name that appears in the student’s official record.

[School Division] personnel shall refer to each student using only the pronouns appropriate to the sex appearing in the student’s official record – that is, male pronouns for a student whose legal sex is male, and female pronouns for a student whose legal sex is female.

Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3) of this section, [School Division] personnel shall refer to a student by a name other than one in the student’s official record, or by pronouns other than those appropriate to the sex appearing in the student’s official record, only if an eligible student or a student’s parent has instructed [School Division] in writing that such other name or other pronouns be used because of the student’s persistent and sincere
belief that the student’s gender differs from his or her sex.

Any written instruction from a parent or eligible student under paragraph (4) of this section shall be memorialized in the student’s official record and subject to the same retention, disclosure, and confidentiality requirements as the official record itself. The legal name and sex of a student shall not be changed, even upon the written instruction of a parent or eligible student.

Youngkin’s critics continue to accuse him of waging war on the LGBTQ community, focused especially on trans youth.

At the beginning of September at a rally in Annandale; Youngkin called for schools to out trans and gender nonconforming students to their parents and guardians, prompting a rebuke from GLSEN. 

GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers condemned the governor’s comments in an exclusive emailed statement to the Blade, writing: “It’s devastating to see politically motivated attempts to break trust between students and educators and to force educators to violate students’ privacy by outing them to guardians.” 

They added, “This kind of hostile school climate puts trans youth at greater risk of harassment, mental health challenges or discrimination. Transgender and nonbinary students need respect and autonomy, not additional scrutiny and policing of their gender identity in school.”g

“What’s their name? What pronoun will they use? How are they going to express their gender? This is a decision that bureaucrats in Fairfax County believe that they should be able to make without telling parents,” Youngkin said. 

Protecting students’ privacy is a core element of “A Guide for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students,” published by GLSEN and the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Equality Virginia on Thursday announced it will track whether school boards have implemented the Virginia Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa S. Rahaman in a press release notes “almost half of Virginia’s K-12 students attend schools in divisions that have fully adopted VDOE’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students” since their issuance in 2020. 

“These policies, developed in accordance with evidence-based best practices, give teachers and administrators critical tools to create safe, inclusive and learning environments for all students,” said Rahaman. “School boards in every corner of our commonwealth have a unique and urgent opportunity to protect transgender students by adopting the model policies.”

Equality Virginia in its press release further noted the School Board Policy and Meeting Tracker will “provide parents, advocates and students information on local school board meetings, potential agenda items and opportunity for public comment, and whether the school district has adopted” the guidelines.

The other issue within the new set of guidelines the activist told the Blade, is that the language almost nullifies the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of then-high school student Gavin Grimm who fought against his school policy on use of school restrooms and changing rooms.

The 4th Circuit found that the Gloucester County School District’s policies that prohibited students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that did not correspond with their “biological gender” and denied them transcripts that correspond to their gender identity was unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June 2021 declined to hear the case upholding the 4th Circuit ruling.

Additionally reporting by Christopher Kane and Michael K. Lavers

Continue Reading

Virginia

Karl Frisch to run for Va. House of Delegates

Fairfax County School Board member hopes to succeed Mark Keam

Published

on

Karl Frisch (Photo courtesy of Karl Frisch)

Fairfax County School Board member Karl Frisch on Tuesday announced he is running for the Virginia House of Delegates.

Frisch made the announcement after state Del. Mark Keam (D-Fairfax County) announced he will resign in order to accept a post within the Biden administration. 

Frisch has represented the Providence District on the Fairfax County School Board since 2019. He is the first openly LGBTQ person elected to public office in the county.

“Mark Keam has represented us well for more than a decade,” said Frisch in his campaign announcement. “We have much to be grateful for in his legacy of leadership and service to our community.”

“To create a future where no Virginian is left behind, we need a progressive fighter in Richmond with a record of results we can count on,” added Frisch. “We need someone who will stand up to Gov. Youngkin and the far-right — someone who will work every day to protect our world-class public schools, defend reproductive freedom, build an economy that works for everyone, prevent gun violence, heal our planet, and preserve our democracy.”

It is not yet clear when a special election to fill Keam’s seat will take place.

Frisch would represent the 35th District in the House of Delegates if he were to win. 

State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and state Del. Mark Sickles are gay, while state Del. Dawn Adams (D-Richmond) and Danica Roem (D-Manassas) are lesbian and transgender respectively. State Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D-Virginia Beach) in June came out as bisexual.

Continue Reading

Virginia

Youngkin calls for schools to out transgender students

Governor made comments during ‘Parents Matter’ rally in Annandale

Published

on

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

During a “Parents Matter” rally on Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin called for schools to out transgender and gender nonconforming students to their parents and guardians, prompting a rebuke from GLSEN. 

GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers condemned the covernor’s comments in an exclusive emailed statement to the Washington Blade, writing: “It’s devastating to see politically motivated attempts to break trust between students and educators and to force educators to violate students’ privacy by outing them to guardians.” 

They added, “This kind of hostile school climate puts trans youth at greater risk of harassment, mental health challenges or discrimination. Transgender and nonbinary students need respect and autonomy, not additional scrutiny and policing of their gender identity in school.”

Youngkin’s comments on the subject addressed Fairfax County Public Schools’ Regulation 2603, which stipulates that students may choose to use pronouns and restrooms/facilities that correspond with their gender identity and transition their gender without parental permission. 

“They think that parents have no right to know what your child is discussing with their teacher or their counselor, particularly when some of the most important topics, most important topics that a child may want to discuss are being determined,” the governor said during the back-to-school event Wednesday. 

“What’s their name? What pronoun will they use? How are they going to express their gender? This is a decision that bureaucrats in Fairfax County believe that they should be able to make without telling parents,” Youngkin said. 

Protecting students’ privacy is a core element of “A Guide for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students,” published by GLSEN and the ACLU. 

The document tells students their schools should act to prevent harassment and bullying, facilitate their access to their preferred restrooms and facilities, and protect their privacy “by not revealing that you are transgender to others unless you have given them permission to do so,” adding, “your school should not be outing you to anyone.” 

“It’s time that Gov. Youngkin stops using trans students’ lives to gain political points at the expense of their safety and well-being,” said Equality Virginia in a statement. “Transgender and nonbinary students are not going anywhere, and we need to treat them with the respect and care that they deserve. The governor’s administration needs to hear and really listen to what transgender youth in our schools have to say about their experiences, and ensure that there are policies in place to protect them. By instead making open threats to their rights, the administration is failing transgender students in Virginia and contributing to hostile school environments for our youth.”

Youngkin’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the apparent conflict between the tenets of this guidance and the governor’s comments on Wednesday.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular