As an educator, parent, and Christian, I am highly opposed to the proposed policies. Have we truly taken a look at all students rights when writing these policies? Have we considered the mental, emotional, and social consequences on all our students to be subjected to these policies? Have we looked at the majority of what our students want and deserve?
I am unsure why as professionals and adults (I will acknowledge not all on the panel are adults nor professionals, and DEFINITELY not eductors), you feel there are not some serious, long-lasting negative consequences associated with our students if these policies are put into place. First and foremost, they do not represent ALL student bodies across the State of Virginia. Nor do they fairly represent or consider the repercussions that will take place for ALL students. I believe that we need to look outside of one particular group of students (or political agenda) and look at what will create the best possible learning environment for ALL students. That is our goal, correct, as educators, and what the State of Virginia as called us to do as an educational entity? These learning environments need to be safe, caring, inviting, and accepting FOR ALL STUDENTS- not just a small percentage.
On the other hand, have we considered that we are already facing a shortage of quality teachers in our great state? Now, we want to hold teachers responsible to whims of a select few parents and students and policies that will seriously put us in jeopardy of violating our personal beliefs and livelihoods should we not bow down to the ridiculousness of uttering an incorrect pronoun. Have we, as educators, been polled on our thoughts about these policies- since we are the ones in the trenches tolerating and enforcing them in the name of wanting to better the world and make a difference?
Lastly, let's talk about personal beliefs. At what point, do I as a Christian parent and educator have my rights protected as well? I do not stand for anyone getting bullied, left out, feeling uncared for, abused, etc. That is why I am an educator- so I can help create possibilities for our young students and help them change their lives. But at what point, will someone not allow us Christian educators and parents to not be bullied? When do we count? In no way do I feel it is correct that one of my young female students be allowed in a bathroom with a male student. Nor do I feel it is appropriate for a male student to be subjected to a female student's anatomy because this female (or her parent) deems that she may choose not to wear a top in certain activities. At what point, did we decide that ALL our students' physical and mental safety is not a priority? Have we considered all the possibilities (and statistics) of sexual assault? The repercussions of the angry parents when a student complains or shares a negative experience? Have we not, as schools, experienced enough violence (and negative headlines) for this possibility to be considered as a very real threat as a result?
Men and women of the panel and VDOE, I applaud you attempting to protect our students, but I urge you to cast your net wider in representing the great State of Virginia and the school divisions and populations within. I also urge you to truly think like parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc... in what you would desire for your family each and every day when you entrust them to a public educational setting. Put aside any political agendas or what money and pressure is taunting you to decide and truly look at the safety and welfare and what is right for the majority of our students and educators.