Virginia school boards are pushing back against the Virginia Department of Education regarding transgenderism in schools, setting the stage for an intense standoff between local and state officials.
Last year, Virginia’s DOE adopted the controversial “Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools” as part of its effort to promote “gender diversity” in the classroom. Under these new guidelines, schools must “accept a student’s assertion of their gender identity without requiring any particular substantiating evidence, including diagnosis, treatment, or legal documents.” Continued refusal to accept a transgender student’s “name and pronoun” amounts to “discriminat[ion]” according to the state, suggesting that any district or teacher who rejects the idea that students should be free to alter their gender at any age will be subject to legal ramifications. If the model policy is implemented, transgender students will also be granted access to whichever locker room they choose, based solely on their preference.
The “model policy” also positions the education system as a paternal figure capable of overruling parents in disputes about a student’s gender identity. According to the document, “In the situation when parents or guardians of a minor student (under 18 years of age) do not agree with the student’s request to adopt a new name and pronouns… school divisions will need to determine” a plan of action “that respects both the student and the parents.” Instead of reserving control over the home for parents and families, the state seeks to inject itself into private matters to push a political agenda onto the next generation.
Amid the influx of critical race theory and other politically motivated material in schools, parents and legislators voiced their concerns about the education their children are receiving. Parents from nearby Loudoun County went viral last month after their emotional rebuttals of critical race theory at a contentious school board meeting that went viral. However, the most important and consequential stand has been taken by local school board officials who have refused to bow down to the woke demands of the bureaucracy.
On Tuesday, July 13, Pittsylvania and Bedford County School Boards voted to reject the DOE’s model policy. The next day, Russell County followed suit, eliciting outcry from the Virginia education department. A spokesperson from the VA DOE told the Washington Examiner that, “The 2020 legislation (House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161) requires local school boards to ‘adopt policies that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive than the model policies developed by the Virginia Department of Education’ by the start of the 2021-2022 school year… It is the responsibility of the local school board to follow the law.” The Virginia legislature passed H.B. 145 in March of last year which requires localities to incorporate model policies into their curricula before the onset of the next school year.
Despite the stern warnings from the state, Bob Gibson, a school board member from Russell County, reaffirmed his promise to protect his community rather than serve the interests of big government, “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.”
In the coming months, the bold districts will face an assault from the left-wing media which will attempt to bemoan them as racist, while the state will send a number of legal challenges their way. However, Russell, Bedford, and Pittsylvania must remain strong in their commitment to preserving the welfare of the next generation. As the culture war rages on, progressives continually insert their divisive politics into traditionally apolitical arenas, destroying the quality of education our children receive. In the interest of cultivating a strong future for the next generation, conservatives must keep up the fight and reject any attempt by the Left to indoctrinate vulnerable children into their mob.