Fairfax County Public Schools draft new transgender student regulations

FOX 5's Alexandra Limon reports.

- Fairfax County Public Schools have drafted a new list of guidelines and regulations when it comes to accommodating transgender students. These guidelines were not voted on by the school board and they have not been publicly announced, but FOX 5 has learned they will take effect in the fall.

“In terms of school atmosphere, in terms of making schools more welcoming to all kids, especially trans kids, I think this will have a tremendous impact,” said Robert Rigby, president of the FCPS Pride and a veteran teacher at West Potomac High School in Alexandria.

Rigby applauds the move by the school board to implement the new regulations for transgender students in Fairfax County.

FOX 5 obtained a copy of the new regulations that include giving transgender students the option of using the bathroom or locker room that corresponds to their gender identity. It also provides instructions for teachers and staff to call students by their preferred name and pronoun.

However, not everyone is pleased with the move and how it has come about.

“I just felt like for many public school families who are seeking more information to know what is going on with their kids’ academic environment, this is another example of how we have sort of been shut out,” said Ruth Williamson, a mother of four children.

She said “a lack of transparency” drove her to pull her kids out of the Fairfax County Public Schools system. Now, the single mother juggles working and homeschooling her four children.

School board member Elizabeth Schultz also finds the move problematic.

“You have by default cut the public out of the discussion and you are reneging on your promise as a board to be accountable to the public,” she said.

“Especially as a mom of girls, I do feel that there are issues that for their future could really end up causing them to be discriminated against,” said Williamson. “My daughters are athletes and I’d love to see them have an equal playing field with other female athletes, particularly as they start to look toward high school and maybe getting scholarships. I’d hate to see them lose some opportunities there because they end up having to compete against transgender girls who really do have a biological advantage.”

During previous school board meetings and before Fairfax County Public Schools even decided on policy changes, parents expressed concern for the safety of students in bathrooms, locker room and when there were overnight accommodations involved for school trips.

“Some friends of mine with daughters have expressed concern about what about the yahoos, what about the troublemakers, what about the bad actors, and what we find is that no one ever has pretended to be trans to have access,” said Rigby.

In a statement, Fairfax County Public School Board Chair Pat Hynes said, "We do not hold up regulations for board review. Any board member may at any time propose that the school board direct the superintendent to amend any regulation to bring it in line with policy. That proposal would require a majority board vote and until then, the regulation would be in effect as written. Our forum conversation on July 14 is only about process.”

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