Virginia school board votes against state issued transgender policies
The Augusta County Virginia School Board unanimously voted Thursday night not to adopt model policies for the treatment of transgender students put forth by the state’s Department of Education.
“I do not think that any child in Augusta County Public Schools should ever be bullied, harassed, or in any way made to feel uncomfortable in their respective schools,” said Augusta County School Board member Dr. John Ocheltree. “Like many parents and grandparents of Augusta County, the Virginia Department of Education policy does not sit well with me.”
The DOE model policies include eliminating gender-based practices, ending gender-based homecoming/prom court, canceling events such as “Father-Daughter” dances, and organize overnight lodging for field trips based on gender identity, not biological sex, as pointed out by Mary Vought, executive director at the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Nearly 500 people filled the Wilson Memorial High School auditorium for the meeting to voice their opposition and support for the new policies.
“I believe parents want to have your backs if you stand up and vote no to the liberal agenda,” said Beth Jenkins, who opposes the model policies. “They do not trust the government. They want to send their children to public school, but they will not be told how to raise their children.”
“Why accept this government overreach? Why open this Pandora’s Box? Why a few students’ comfort is more important than a vast majority of students’ discomfort?” asked Terrence Williams, who also opposes the policies.
However, some voiced concern that the refusal to adopt the policies may increase LGBT youth suicide rates.
“The impact of every person in a school being supportive has the potential to change statistics and decrease the suicide rate of the LGBTQ+ youth from 40% to none,” said Elizabeth White, who has a transgender teenager and supports the model policies.
The board also voted unanimously to make masks optional for all K-12 public school students.