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Virginia Department of Education ‘restores parental rights’

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(The Center Square) – Virginia parental rights advocates scored a huge victory Tuesday with the release of model policies from the Virginia Department of Education reversing a 2021 version that “kept parents in the dark.”

The guidance, Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools, provides clearer input for school boards regarding the role of parents in decisions relating to their child’s gender identity, as well as restricting transgender students from participating in sex segregated extra-curricular activities that don’t align with their biological sex.

In addition, the new directive requires students to use bathrooms or locker rooms that correspond with their biological sex; while recognizing federal law may override such policy, it provides parents the right to opt their children out from using those facilities and must provide private, alternative facilities.

The Education Department underscored the purpose of the model policies is to “promote a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students.” The new directive also requires schools to inform parents of bullying incidents within 24 hours.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin applauded the new policies, delivering on one of his top campaign promises to protect parental rights in public education.

“The VDOE updated model policies reaffirm my administration’s continued commitment to ensure that every parent is involved in conversations regarding their child’s education, upbringing, and care,” said Youngkin.

“The Department of Education has delivered policies that empower parents, prohibit discrimination, create a safe and vibrant learning environment by addressing bullying incidents immediately, and protect the privacy and dignity of all students through bathroom policies, athletic procedures, and student identification measures,” he added.

Critics of the new policies claim they are “dangerous” and ignored input from “thousands of Virginians,” including members of the LGBTQ+ community – accusing Youngkin and the Department of Education of playing politics.

“Governor Youngkin and the VDOE made a dangerous, politically motivated decision to ignore the thousands of Virginians who submitted public comments in opposition to his proposed model policies – policies which single out transgender and nonbinary youth in our schools,” said Narissa Rahaman, executive director of Equality Virginia.

“Youngkin did all of this with no input from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups nor subject matter experts,” Rahaman said. “Throughout the comment process, though Virginians made it clear that LGBTQ+ youth deserve safety, respect and the opportunity to thrive.”

The new policy requires that “student’s individual needs should be taken into consideration” by schools and “attempt to accommodate students with distinctive needs.”

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