WASHINGTON - The Spotsylvania County School Board voted to adopt a new policy for transgender students Monday evening.
The policy follows new guidelines issued by the Virginia Department of Education called "Ensuring Privacy, Dignity and Respect for All Students."
It would require school staff to refer to students by the names and pronouns that match the sex on their official record unless the child or their parent writes a letter to officials requesting a different name or pronouns be used. The policy also details that school programs, events and extracurricular activities that are separated by male and female students would be determined by sex assigned at birth – not gender or gender identity. The same goes for bathrooms and locker rooms unless parents opt out their kids from using those facilities to instead be given access to a different area for safety purposes.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin views the policy as a win for parents.
"All children in Virginia deserve to have a parent engaged in their life and to be treated with dignity and respect. 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 in a statement to FOX 5 last month.
But some students and LGBTQ advocates are criticizing these changes and see them as dangerous and politically motivated.
"I find it really ironic that the name of this policy mentions ensuring respect and all it does is disrespect these students," said high school student Jackson Hunley to FOX 5 DC.
The Spotsylvania County school board's final vote came in the middle of the night Tuesday. The new policy was passed with a majority vote.
"It’s a good policy, it’s sound and takes away any ambiguity that exists within the schools and places parental rights at the forefront of policy and decision making and how staff and teaches interact with students," said Jon Russell, Spotsylvania County Public Schools Chief of Staff.