On August 15, 2023, FCPS Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid made an official statement after community members expressed concern about Virginia Department of Education's new model policies regarding treatment of transgender and gender expansive students. Dr. Reid indicated that FCPS conducted a legal review which determined that the current FCPS policies (Regulation 2603) complied with federal and state anti-discrimination laws. She made stated that FCPS’s existing policies still stand:
Let me be clear that FCPS remains committed to fostering a safe, supportive, welcoming, and inclusive school environment for all students and staff, including our transgender and gender expansive students and staff.
We believe that supporting our students and working with parents and caregivers are not mutually exclusive; we already do both and will continue to do so. We know that students can only learn effectively when they feel safe and supported.
Later that day, FCPS Pride led a successful rally and march in support of transgender and gender expansive students and to acknowledge FCPS's firm commitment to protect the rights of these students. Nearly 100 students, parents, teachers, elected officials, and faith leaders marched together along Gallows Road carrying flags and signs.
As the Washington Post noted, Youngkin’s revised model policies will “roll back protections for transgender students in K-12 schools.” The ACLU has declared that “The 2023 policies seek to erase transgender and non-binary youth from the classrooms, creating a hostile and potentially dangerous school environment.“
One week later, on August 24, 2023, Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Attorney General Jason Miyares released an official advisory opinion that the Youngkin model policies comply with federal and state anti-discrimination laws. He also reiterated that school boards must adopt policies in line with these policies, despite outstanding concerns that the policies discriminate against transgender and gender expansive students in violation of § 22.1-23.3 Code of Virginia, or, as ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Eden Heilman stated:
At best, [the model policies] invite discrimination; at worst, they require it ... .Attorney General Jason Miyares’ opinion defending the policies is every bit as cruel and misguided as the policies themselves.
4 Public Education applauds FCPS’s commitment to transgender and gender expansive students and rejects the anti-transgender Virginia Department of Education model policies. School districts should follow Fairfax County’s lead by adhering to state and federal anti-discrimination laws to ensure that transgender and gender expansive students:
Will continue to be addressed by their chosen names and pronouns.
Will continue to be provided with access to facilities, activities, and/or trips consistent with their gender identity.
Will continue to have their privacy respected regarding gender expansive or transgender status, legal name, or sex assigned at birth.
Please contact your school board member(s) and Dr. Reid to thank them for standing up against discrimination. Contact them via email or call them with your supportive feedback. If you are unsure what to say, you can always follow FCPS Pride's lead.
Photo Credit: The cover photo and first three slide show photos are thanks to Jim Andrukonis. Other photos are thanks to FCPS Pride board members.