Newsletter

FCPS ‘reviewing’ Virginia’s proposed policies on treatment of transgender students

Transgender pride flag (via Alexander Grey/Unsplash)

New draft policies that would limit schools’ ability to support transgender students are currently under review by Fairfax County Public Schools.

Unveiled Friday afternoon (Sept. 16), the Virginia Department of Education’s proposed 2022 model policies directs schools to defer to parents in determining accommodations for LGBTQ students, including the names and pronouns staff can use for them.

The proposal upholds Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s commitment to “preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students,” spokesperson Macaulay Porter said in a statement to The Washington Post.

If the policies take effect, staff must refer to students by the name and sex on their official school records or a “commonly associated” nickname. To change their official records, a student or parent must provide legal documentation, such as a birth certificate, passport, a state or federal identification or court order, supporting the change.

Even with a records change, though, schools can’t require staff and other students “to address or refer to students in any manner that would violate their constitutionally protected rights,” suggesting misgendering and deadnaming will be permissible despite state prohibitions against discrimination and harassment, including based on gender identity.

Under the draft policies, bathroom usage and participation in athletics and other activities must be based on students’ sex as assigned at birth, though “single-user” facilities are supposed to be “made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage” indicating universal accessibility.

The guidelines reverse model policies that the state education department released last year and contradict FCPS’ regulation supporting equity for transgender and gender-expansive students — a policy that Youngkin specifically criticized late last month.

“I understand the concerns that our LGBTQIA+ staff, student, and family community have about what this change of direction by the state may mean for our school division,” Superintendent Michelle Reid said in a message sent to families yesterday (Sunday). “Please be assured that FCPS remains committed to an inclusive learning environment for each and every student and staff member and that our schools will continue to be safe and respectful learning spaces.”

FCPS is in the process of “thoroughly reviewing” the draft guidelines and will release “a more detailed response” soon, Reid said.

The draft policies “betray” a state law adopted in 2020 to protect transgender and queer students, who have become a frequent target of anti-LGBTQ legislation nationwide, says the Pride Liberation Project, an advocacy group of over 200 students.

Calling on the state to withdraw its proposed revisions, the LGBTQ student advocacy group argued that the model policies would require schools to out students, prevent students from expressing their gender identity, and enable parents to block their kids from accessing critical counseling services at a time of increased concern about students’ mental health.

“As a closeted student, I wouldn’t be able to come home if my parents found out that I was Queer. I am terrified that these draft regulations will take away one of the few places I can just be myself,” an anonymous Fairfax County student said in a press release from the student-run group.

Fairfax County School Board Chair Rachna Sizemore-Heizer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from FFXnow, but multiple school board members promised on social media that FCPS will continue to support LGBTQ students.

Reid’s full message to families is below.

September 18, 2022

Dear FCPS Families,

On Friday evening, we became aware of a new proposed model policy from the Virginia Department of Education regarding the privacy, dignity, and respect for all students, staff, and families in Virginia’s public schools. The newly proposed model policy is scheduled for a 30-day public comment period starting September 26.

I understand the concerns that our LGBTQIA+ staff, student, and family community have about what this change of direction by the state may mean for our school division. Please be assured that FCPS remains committed to an inclusive learning environment for each and every student and staff member and that our schools will continue to be safe and respectful learning spaces.

Here at Fairfax County Public Schools, we are dedicated to providing a caring climate and culture where each and every student, staff member, and family is welcomed, respected, valued, and supported, as they experience a deep sense of belonging.

Our core beliefs and mission hold that:

Fairfax County Public Schools inspires and empowers students to meet high academic standards, lead healthy, ethical lives, and be responsible and innovative global citizens:

  • Each student is entitled to an excellent education that meets his or her individual needs.
  • Everyone thrives in a vibrant, healthful, safe, enriching, and respectful environment.
  • Our diversity is a strength that creates resilient, open, and innovative global citizens.

These core values and beliefs speak to the very heart of who we are at Fairfax County Public Schools, and our students, staff, and families, are counting on us to adhere to them. These core values — to enhance school safety and create a fair, equitable, and supportive school environment — are also outlined in the 2022-23 Student Rights and Responsibilities.

We will be thoroughly reviewing the new state proposed model policy in the coming days and will share a more detailed response to the newly proposed policy soon. In the meantime, we remain committed to maintaining equitable opportunities and access for each of our students, staff, and families in a justice-centered, future-focused, and student-driven school environment.

Warmest regards,

Dr. Michelle Reid
Superintendent
Fairfax County Public Schools

Photo via Alexander Grey/Unsplash

Read the comments…

Recent Stories

A man walks a dog into McLean Central Park (staff photo by Angela Woolsey) Special Education Disparities Persist in FCPS — “Students with disabilities in Fairfax County Public Schools perform…

Holly Seibold and Karl Frisch are vying to become the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 35th House District (courtesy Laura Goyer Photography, Friends of Karl Frisch) As early voting for the…

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected] Tomorrow…

Vienna Police (file photo) Recent violent incidents around Vienna included a confrontation between a man and two others leaving his apartment and a battle between a local resident and an…

Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many. He embodies grace, positivity and motivation in ways that no one else can. If we could all learn a thing or two from him, the world would be a much better place. He does so much for others, and does so with a smile on his face 99% of the time.

He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy. CG is no longer able to work and do what he loves for the time being because of this and we’d love your support.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

The Rhea Baker State Farm Agency is proud to support Shelter House in providing safe places to be during quarantine. Shelter House’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence. Right now they are providing over 200 hotel rooms to those in need in our community. In the past year, across all programs, Shelter House served nearly 500 households comprised of over 1,500 individuals, 60% of which were children.

Of the households that exited shelter, over 70% moved to permanent housing. The Baker Agency has served Vienna and Tysons residents and business owners since 2007 and proudly offers insurance solutions for you home, condo, auto insurance, life insurance and more. We offer complimentary reviews and coach teen drivers to safer, better drivers, and to help keep your auto insurance rates down! We are always happy to talk or text at 703-847-6880.

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list