Education /

Virginia's Largest School District to Defy Gov. Youngkin's Guidelines on Policies Surrounding Transgender Students

Virginia's Largest School District to Defy Gov. Youngkin's Guidelines on Policies Surrounding Transgender Students

Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school district in Virginia, has announced that they will not comply with Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration's guidance on several issues surrounding transgender students, including bathroom policies.

The Virginia Department of Education's model policies include deferring to parents in decisions about a child’s "gender identity," having participation in school sports determined by biological sex rather than gender identity, and having students use bathrooms that "correspond to his or her sex, except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires."

Michelle Reid, the superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools, announced on Tuesday that the district would be defying those guidelines.

"I’d like to thank the many of you who have expressed your concern to me about the Virginia Department of Education's new model policies regarding the treatment of transgender and gender expansive students in public schools, and how they would impact our current guidelines for establishing a safe, supportive, welcoming, and inclusive school environment for all students, including our gender-expansive and transgender students," the announcement began. "We have concluded our detailed legal review and determined that our current Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) policies are consistent with federal and state anti-discrimination laws as required by the new model policies."

Reid continued, "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."

The superintendent said that "transgender and gender expansive" students will continue to be addressed by their chosen names and pronouns, continue to be "provided with access to facilities, activities, and/or trips consistent with their gender identity," and "continue to have their privacy respected regarding gender expansive or transgender status, legal name, or sex assigned at birth."

The announcement directed people seeking more information to go to the school district's "LGBTQIA+ Student Resources and Supports" page which lays out additional policies surrounding sex and gender.

The page states that the district policy "Ensures students can use the locker room or restroom that aligns with their gender identity and forbids forcing them to use only a private area, single-occupancy accommodation, or other single-use facility."

Alexandria City Public Schools also vowed to defy the state's guidelines in September.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson applauded the district's decision at the time, tweeting that they "will continue to implement existing policies that support our students, affirm their identity, protect their safety AND comply with the Code of Virginia. I stand with ACPS and with the students they serve."

An anonymous Twitter user responded to the mayor's tweet and asked, "what is the minimum interaction with my child required before a school official can replace me as a parent? The child I birthed and raised for the prior decade."

Mayor Wilson responded, "Another person posting from an anonymous Twitter account, bravely hiding your identity, while you advocate that school systems out terrified children to their parents, and not understanding the irony. How about you go first, and leave our kids alone?"

The Virginia High School League, the body governing most school sports in the state, has also rejected the guidelines.

“As the VHSL fall sport season begins this week, I am recommending the League stay with the current policy which has served us well,” Virginia High School League’s executive director, John “Billy” Haun wrote in an advisory to school leaders in July, according to a report from the Associated Press. “We certainly will respect the decision of any school division as they address their policies and will continue to review this matter as we move forward and the new school year begins.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*