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Virginia ends previous school transgender policies, now requires parent OK to student pronoun change

The policies deliver on a significant campaign promise from Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin to promote parents' rights.

Published: July 20, 2023 8:18am

Updated: July 20, 2023 10:00am

The Virginia Education Department announced new model policies regarding the treatment of transgender students in the state's public schools in guidance that separates students by biological sex and gives parents the sole authority to change their children's names and pronouns in school.

The policies, released Tuesday, deliver on a significant campaign promise from Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin to promote parents' rights, as the guiding principles of the policies emphasize respecting all students and giving parents priority in making decisions for their children.

The wide-ranging policies include stating that schools will be prevented from referring to students by a name or pronoun other than that reflected on their official records unless a student's parent has instructed in writing for a different name or pronoun to be used. 

Any school activity separated by sex shall be done so by sex rather than gender identity, one of the policies states. Additionally, where state or federal law requires schools to allow transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities such as locker rooms or bathrooms, parents are able to opt their child out of using these facilities and the children must be given safe and private alternatives. 

The new guidance also states: "Single-user bathrooms and facilities should be made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage, indicating accessibility for all students." 

The 2021 model policies instituted under former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who left office in January 2022, allowed students to participate in activities and use the restroom and locker room facilities that match their gender identity.

The new policies come after Virginia's Loudoun County School District dealt with the high-profile case of a biological male student dressed as a woman committed two sexual assaults in the girls' bathrooms at two schools in the district in 2021.

Madeleine Hubbard is an international correspondent for Just the News. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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