Virginia Beach’s school board voted Tuesday to allow the superintendent to create gender-related policies tailored to new state requirements.
The 7-3 vote came amid burning public comments supporting and opposing the proposal, which has been criticized for giving the superintendent too much political authority.
The state is currently ordering school boards to adopt measures that are either tailored or tougher than model policies released by the Department of Education (DOE). These will, among other things, require the use of students’ preferred pronouns and allow them to use a facility, including changing rooms and toilets, “corresponding to their gender identity.”
One of the more controversial provisions prevents schools from informing parents about changes that students have requested.
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It reads: “School departments will need to consider student health and safety in situations where students may not want their parents to know about their gender identity and schools should address this on a case-by-case basis.”
“If a student is not ready or able to securely share with their family about their gender identity, this should be respected. There are no rules that require school staff to notify a parent or guardian of a student’s request to confirm their gender identity. and school staff should work with students to help them share the information with their family when they are ready. “
It is unclear how Superintendent Aaron Spence will proceed, and he did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. However, he has reportedly offered support to the state plan and suggested that the school district already comply with it.
“I generally think we’re already complying with the guidance that has been developed, so I think we’ll probably be OK there,” he said, according to News 3.
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He added that “the key issue for all of us to remember is that this is a state law and a requirement in state law that the DOE [Virginia Department of Education] developed model policies for the protection of transgender students, and that school boards adopt these policies either in accordance with or more stringent than. ”
“My commitment and my conviction is that as principals, all of our students should have the same protection under the law. We need to make sure they feel welcome and included in our buildings – every single student.”
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School board member Vicky Manning voted against the policy on Tuesday. In a statement to Fox News, she said: “I am convinced that this policy is a violation of both the United States and the Virginia Constitution’s religious freedom protection, the first amendment to the Constitution, custody laws, confidentiality laws and more.”
“I believe that anyone who votes in the affirmative for this policy, or anyone who implements elements of this policy, will be in breach of their office. I also believe that any administrator, teacher or employee who enforces or implements the practice I have mentioned., could be against the law and be the subject of lawsuits against them, “she said, adding that she hoped parents would pursue relief in the courts.