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Virginia’s education department has finalized a new rule requiring all public schools to get parental permission before cooperating with students who want to identify as a different gender.
The new policies released on Tuesday bar schools from accommodating a student’s request to start going by a different name or pronoun at school unless the child’s parent provides the school with written permission. The policies also require students to play on the school sports teams and use the school bathrooms that match their biological sex.
“All children in Virginia deserve to have a parent engaged in their life and to be treated with dignity and respect,” Governor Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, said of the new policies.
“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. Public comment, input, and concerns were carefully evaluated and assessed to formulate the updated model policies. 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,” Youngkin said.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Lisa Coons said the new policies “provide families the opportunity to weigh in on their child’s decisions and be a partner in their education.”
“We are elevating parents and giving them a seat at the table,” Coons said.
Parental rights advocates applauded the new policies.
Parents Defending Education Action praised the governor, as well as parent advocates, for the “huge win.”
“In the face of threats, including from public officials, Virginia parents have stood strong. They continue to fight for their kids. These policies are a huge win for those parents, and they should be so proud of their courage and their efforts,” Alex Nester, the political director of Parents Defending Education Action, told the Washington Examiner.
The policies were first proposed by Youngkin’s administration in September.
Some student activists around the state reacted by protesting the proposed policies. On one day in September, more than 1,000 students staged a walkout out of Virginia middle and high schools.
The policies went through a public comment period before they were approved this week.
Youngkin’s 2021 gubernatorial campaign heavily emphasized parental rights, particularly in the context of parents having a say in their children’s public school education and overall experience.
Over the last few years, parents have clashed with school districts across the country over a number of issues related to gender ideology, including children adopting new gender identities at school, often without their parent’s knowledge.
One Maine mom sued her child’s district, claiming a school counselor provided her teen daughter with a chest binder and used a new name and pronouns behind the mom’s back.
Meanwhile, it is more popular than ever for youth to adopt new gender identities. An estimated 300,000 minors aged 13 to 17 identified as transgender as of last year.