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Guidance Document Change: The Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools guidance document was developed in response to House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161, enacted by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly, which directed the Virginia Department of Education to develop and make available to each school board model policies concerning the treatment of transgender students in public elementary and secondary schools. These guidelines address common issues regarding transgender students in accordance with evidence-based best practices and include information, guidance, procedures, and standards relating to: compliance with applicable nondiscrimination laws; maintenance of a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students; prevention of and response to bullying and harassment; maintenance of student records; identification of students; protection of student privacy and the confidentiality of sensitive information; enforcement of sex-based dress codes; and student participation in sex-specific school activities, events, and use of school facilities.
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2/3/21  10:17 am
Commenter: John David Gowdy

Gender science is still in flux

Gender and transgender science is still in a state of flux. There are many recent studies on gender and transgender individuals and societal issues but few, if any, are definitive and widely accepted. One fact is sure, and that is that adolescence, the period following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult, is the most critical for the formation of gender identity. See: Gender dysphoria in adolescence: current perspectives  (2018). Adolescence is generally defined as occurring from ages 13-19.  As anyone who has been a teenager can attest, feelings towards oneself, the opposite sex, or the same sex, are all in a state of flux during these critical years. I believe that it is inappropriate to mandate certain behaviors in schools K-12, but particularly for ages 5-12.  Biological sex may be more easily identified by children and adults, but transgender and LGBTQ+ individuals are not always easily identified without their help or verbal disclosure. The proposed policies will, in effect, force pre-puberty students and adolescents to make both choices and disclosures concerning their own gender or gender identity before may be ready to do so -- and, in many cases without proper education, counseling, and the time and reflection necessary, in order to do so appropriately. Additionally, this proposed mandate requires a tremendous task of school teachers and administrators, who are unlikely to be fully-equipped and trained to manage all that is expected of them under these policies.  Widely accepted LGBTQ+ and gender identity education and tolerance courses would need to be required for all school teachers and administrators and be settled in advance before these policies could be effectively implemented and maintained.  In summary, gender identity science is not fully settled; adolescents and pre-puberty youth are at risk if policies are not wisely tailored to their needs; and, a lack of complete education and preparation in schools and school districts will invite more harm than good.


CommentID: 95031