I am writing in support of the Model Policies on the Treatment of Transgender Students because students who feel safe and are validated at school learn more and can better contribute to their communities and careers. As a graduate of Virginia public schools who has worked directly with Charlottesville City students, I can speak first-hand to the importance of safe and welcoming classrooms. Young people who don’t feel safe at home often need school to be a warm and supportive environment - these Model Policies are an important step to ensuring that can happen for trans and nonbinary students in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
GLSEN's 2019 National School Climate Survey shows that transgender and nonbinary students feel less safe at school and miss school more often because of feeling unsafe compared to their cisgender peers. Transgender and nonbinary students also report higher rates of victimization and discrimination than their peers, especially regarding respect for their names and pronouns and access to bathrooms and locker rooms. Transgender and nonbinary students should feel safe and included in their learning communities.
No one deserves to be bullied, harassed, or discriminated against in their school, which is a place where they are supposed to be able to learn and be a part of a community that accepts them for who they are. Schools teach students how to succeed but they also teach students how to treat each other. This proposed rule will make Virginia schools a better place to learn for transgender and nonbinary students, which creates a better learning environment for all. Thank you for your commitment to ensuring safe and welcoming schools for all Virginia students.