(The Center Square) – New guidance from the Virginia Department of Education that will divert authority on transgender issues back to parents and require students to use bathrooms that correspond with their sex is garnering support from some Fairfax County parents.
“The new policy is critical to protecting our children,” Laura Bryant Hanford, who has one child in Fairfax County Public Schools and two more who will enter into the school system, told The Center Square. “There should never have been a policy that excluded parents to begin with.”
In a shift away from the previous administration, the guidelines require school boards to adopt policies that ensure parents will be informed before the school provides counseling services related to gender and must give parents the opportunity to object. Per the guidelines, schools will need to defer to parents on decisions about the use of pronouns, names and nicknames or whether the student identifies with a gender separate from his or her biological sex. Under the old rules, schools were not required to notify parents and were encouraged to direct students to resources if their parents did not affirm transgender identities.
“The idea that public school administrators and teachers would keep critical information about children’s gender identities from their mothers and fathers is unconscionable,” Stephanie Lundquist-Arora, who has three sons in Fairfax County Public Schools, told The Center Square. “Parents are the solution in crises, not the problem.”
Harry Jackson, who has two children in the county’s public school system, told The Center Square that the new guidelines are a step in the right direction and that authority “should have never been taken away from the parents” in the first place. With the high suicide rates among people with gender dysphoria, Jackson said parents need to be informed to ensure their children receive adequate care.
Another change in the new policies relates to bathrooms, locker rooms and athletics. Per the guidelines, schools need to create policies in which students use these facilities and programs in accordance with biological sex, rather than gender identity. The guidelines also instruct schools to provide single-user bathrooms that are accessible to all students, regardless of sex or gender identity.
Jackson said this policy change is important to protect the “privacy and safety of our daughters.” Under the previous rules that allowed students to enter bathrooms and locker rooms based on gender identity, regardless of sex, Jackson said individuals could explout the policy to prey on children becaue it does not vet students who are truly gender dysphoric.
Lundquist-Arora also said this change is necessary to protect female students.
“Separation of the biological sexes in bathrooms and locker rooms is necessary to keep girls safe in school,” Lundquist-Arora said. “Many of these progressive school districts, particularly FCPS, pay lip service to ‘safety’ and ‘inclusion’ but only in the name of policies and procedures that are politically expedient to them. Meanwhile, they ignore any facts and students’ needs that run counter to their narrative.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin campaigned heavily on restoring parental rights in public education, which was one of his main issues during the gubernatorial election. This is one of several steps taken by the administration to live up to his campaign promise.
“The Youngkin policy just restores sanity to the process,” Hanford said. “Parents need to be involved, they know and love their children a million times better than a school counselor or teacher. We already have laws in place in the cases where a child may be at risk.”
The policy shift has received support from Republican lawmakers and conservative groups, but has been opposed by Democratic lawmakers and transgender groups. Some students staged walkouts in opposition to the policy change.