I'm writing in favor of the Model Policy for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools draft policy that supports and affirms transgender students in Virginia, that is currently posted for public comment.
Protecting our children, all of our children, is one of our most important jobs. Whatever your thoughts on gender identity, I hope we can agree on that much. Trans children are one of the most vulnerable groups of children in the country. They are victims of bullying, harassment, and beatings. They feel unsafe at school, because they are unsafe at school. I saw this abuse when I was a child, and while I’m glad to hear from friends that there has been some change for the better over the years, school is still far too unsafe for our transgender and nonconforming children. A large percentage of these kids have tried to kill themselves due to the abuse they suffer for at the hands of those who hate and mistreat them for not conforming to the gender they were assigned at birth. As an adult, as a mom, and as a woman of faith, I have a responsibility to speak out to make the world a better, safer place for kids today.
The good news is that when trans students are accepted, supported, and cherished, as all children should be, in other words, when they're not in an unhealthy environment, they will be happy and healthy and grow into happy and healthy adults. That's what well-substantiated, scientific, peer-reviewed research shows us. Affirming and supporting our trans children just as they are strengthens their families' ability to support them as they grow up.
There is plenty of misunderstanding and fear about transgender issues. Bullying, harassment, beatings, and abuse won't stop unless we take action. They won't stop if we ignore the plight of these children and simply hope for the best. I appreciate that Virginia is putting into place policies that provide clear guidance about how to make our schools more safe, supportive, and inclusive. Teachers and staff who model how to accept schoolmates as they are will help all of our children make school safer for everyone. I'd like to thank the Virginia Department of Education for working on this Model Policy in support of transgender and gender non-conforming students.