News and Commentary

Virginia School Board Unanimously Votes Against State’s New Transgender Policies After Community Outrage

   DailyWire.com
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A school board in Virginia voted unanimously to reject the state’s new transgender policies for students after members of the community objected.

PJ Media reported that the Russell County School Board rejected the Virginia Department of  Education’s (VDOE) transgender policy, which was approved last year. As PJ Media reported:

According to the policies, schools are required to “accept a student’s assertion of their gender identity without requiring any particular substantiating evidence, including diagnosis, treatment, or legal documents.”

So, as long a student insists they are transgender, they must be allowed to use whichever bathroom they prefer, locker rooms they prefer, etc.

The policy required Virginia public schools to adopt it, but Russell County refused. Community members and the school board itself spoke out against the policies.

“I was elected by the people of this community, and I intend to stand up to protect every kid and do the will of the people of Russell County — and not that of an overreaching state government,” School board member Bob Gibson said in a statement last week. “The most important thing we can do is protect every kid and to provide them with a safe and secure place to learn.”

A VDOE spokesperson told the Washington Examiner that Russell County’s vote violated the law.

“The 2020 legislation (House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161) requires local school boards to ‘adopt policies that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive than the model policies developed by the Virginia Department of Education’ by the start of the 2021-2022 school year,” the spokesperson said. “It is the responsibility of the local school board to follow the law.”

Josh Hetzler, an attorney at the Founding Freedoms Law Center, however, told PJ Media that the school board’s vote wasn’t in violation and that the VDOE’s policy was itself a violation of numerous state and federal laws.

“[T]he policies themselves violated various state and federal laws, including infringing upon numerous fundamental rights of students, parents, and teachers,” Hetzler told the outlet. “Because of how legally problematic these model policies are, not to mention the likelihood of tangible harms to student’s bodily, privacy, safety, and dignity in private spaces, [the] school board simply cannot adopt policies consistent with the existing model policy.”

Virginia schools have apparently become ground zero for several divisive issues in education. As The Daily Wire previously reported, a gym teacher who publicly refused to use a student’s preferred pronouns was suspended. A judge later ordered the school to reinstate the teacher, Byron “Tanner” Cross, but the Loudoun County school board appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court.

“Public schools have no right to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting,” ADF attorney Tyson Langhofer told Fox News. “The lower court’s decision ordering Tanner’s reinstatement was a well-reasoned application of these facts to clearly established law, so there is no reason for the Virginia Supreme Court to take this appeal. The school district wants to force Tanner to endorse its ideals and shut down any opposing views. That violates the Constitution and laws of Virginia, and so did the school’s move to place Tanner on leave.”

Virginia also has at least two counties leading the fight against Critical Race Theory from being pushed in public schools.

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