Letter to Our Potential University, State and Local Partners
To Our Potential University, State, and Local Partners, On September 16th, the Youngkin Administration released 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Diginity, and Respect for all Studentes and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools for the Virginia Department of Education. In this proposal, the Youngkin administration reverses the 2021 Model Policies that protected the health and safety of transgender children in our education systems. To replace the 2021 Policy Proposal, the Youngkin Administration has suggested the following:
Part II(C) of the definitions section on page 16 of the 2022 Policy Proposal defines a transgender child not by their identity, but by the "belief" that they are transgender, asserting the incorrect narrative that children have the ability to choose their identity.
III(A)(3) on page 17 of the 2022 Policy Proposal requires “outing” (revealing) the transgender student to their parents before being able to receive counseling services surrounding their gender, also requiring parental approval for these life-saving mental support services.
III(D)(2)-(3) on page 18 of the 2022 Policy Proposal requires “deadnaming” (using the legal, not preferred name of) students if their school records do not reflect their preferred name, and misgendering (using incorrect pronouns) them if their school records do not reflect their gender identity. It also relies on a sex binary (i.e., male/female) and erases the existence of intersex people.
III(D)(4) requires using pronouns and names consistent with a transgender student's gender identity only if the parents tell the school to do so in writing, preventing transgender children in unsafe home environments from being respected in school settings.
III(F)(1) is concerningly vague over its definitions and applications. It may allow districts to expand dress codes for transgender children - potentially saying that dressing in a "gender non-conforming" manner is "distracting" and "disrupts focus." III(G)(1)-(2); III(H)(1) require participation and facilities to be separated by sex (defined by the model policies as biological sex which can be changed through the courts). This is trans-exclusionary in the cases where the trans student's parents do not tell the school district in writing/change their student's records to reflect their gender identity. Luckily, they can’t make this policy any more extreme because federal laws and cases would prohibit that.
In sum, the problem with the Policy Proposal is that it puts transgender children in dangerous situations across the Commonwealth. By “outing” transgender children to their famlies without their consent, they are opening the possibility of abuse and neglect at the hands of their own families, abandonment to our foster care system - which is already disproportionately comprised of transgender children, and suicide over being forced to live a life that is not theirs.
These policies are why, as of September 20th, 2022, the Student-led Queer organizations at the University of Virginia (Sigma Omicron Rho, the Queer Student Union, and oSTEM) combined knowledge, resources, and efforts to create a united body. To answer the needs of our State and Local communities, we created the Virignia Collegiate Queer Collective (VCQC). Under extraordinary circumstances (like our current situation), individual Queer organizations can propose to initiate an Emergency Session to deliberate and vote on bringing the VCQC into full-scale activity and mobilization. On September 17th, Sigma Omicron Rho initiated the first Emergency Session for this deliberation, and under a unanimous vote on September 20th, the VCQC began its first active session to tackle the crisis created by the Policy Proposal. From here, we’ve contacted experts in policy. We are organizing to create our first Action Plan, which will be released to Our Community. This Action Plan is dynamic, meaning that it is subject to change as we coordinate and respond to updates with larger groups like American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), EqualityVA, and Side-by-Side. For this plan, we need our State and Local community now more than ever before. Together, we are the strongest we’ve ever been, and we will make a difference for the good of our State. Email email@example.com Phone: (202) 750-3627 Best, Directors of the Virginia Collegiate Queer Collective