In a move that could spur legal action between county and state, the Augusta County School Board has unanimously voted to reject state standards for the required treatment of transgender students in Virginia public schools.
The school board called a special meeting last week to decide if it would amend its nondiscrimination to reflect recently approved requirements from the Virginia Department of Education, The Washington Examiner reports.
School districts are required by state law to adhere to the standards, which profess to aim to “address common issues regarding transgender students.”
The model policy from the state Department of Education requires schools to “ensure that all students, including transgender students, have safe, supportive, and inclusive school environments,” and mandate schools should do away with any gender-specific dress code standards as well as avoid using pronouns that correspond with a student’s biological gender if that is not how they identify.
The meeting was attended by roughly 500 people, the majority of whom opposed adopting the state standards.
“I believe parents want to have your backs if you stand up and vote no to the liberal agenda,” one resident, Beth Jenkins, told the board, as reported by local news. “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.”
Board member John Ocheltree said he believed no child should ever be bullied or harassed, but had concerns about the state standards.
“Like many parents and grandparents of Augusta County, the Virginia Department of Education policy does not sit well with me,” he explained.
There were proponents of the state policies in attendance, however, including one parent whose child is transgender.
“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 parent Elizabeth White.
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