As of Oct. 23, more than 62,800 public comments have been made since access opened Sept. 26.
The new policies would require parents of transgender students to request their child’s school to address them as such. Name and pronoun changes would also require a request from parents, as well as official legal documents and court orders noting the change.
Students would be required to use the bathroom that aligns with their sex, except to the extent that the federal law requires otherwise.
Parents can also deny school-provided counseling services.
IN-DEPTH: Click here to read the complete draft policies | Click here to read the previous policies
On Sunday afternoon, just days before the public comment window closes, students from across the Commonwealth came together to silently protest the model policies, claiming that transgender and nonbinary students who rely on their school setting as a safe haven for how they identify, may soon have that stripped away if their families are not accepting of their gender identity or preferred name or pronouns.
“I want to fight for our youth community because a lot of our adult community is no longer here. And that’s something that parents need to understand. When their kids are transgender, they deserve support, because a lot of them don’t make it to adulthood, because of the same policies we see in Virginia, happening today,” said Oliver Lesher with the Virginia Collegiate Queer Collaborative.
According to 2022 data released by the Trevor Project, fewer than one in three transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be “gender affirming.” Nearly one in five transgender youth attempted suicide in the past year.
Those who support the policy, however, say it will prevent harm to all students.
“Parents made their voices heard in the election. Governor Youngkin and many continue to express their support of the direction he has set through the public comment process. With sexual assaults in bathrooms in our public schools under the former policy, change is necessary to protect every child,” said Victoria Cobb, President of the Family Foundation of Virginia.
According to the Trevor Project, transgender youth are at risk of being physically threatened or assaulted.
Based on 2022 survey data, about 37% of transgender youth reported to have been physically threatened or harmed due to their gender identity.
RELATED: Richmond school leaders on new transgender polices: ‘This is unacceptable’
Lesher said he hopes parents will look beyond misinformation regarding transgender individuals.
“Children can stay safe with parents getting empowered with the correct information on how to help their kids experiment and socially transition, which greatly reduces the risk of mental illness and suicide. This doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game,” he said.
The public comment window will close on Wednesday at 11:59. The comments will then be reviewed and potentially updated by the Virginia Department of Education. The final draft policies then need to be approved by the state superintendent before individual school districts adopt it.
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IN-DEPTH: How Central Virginia school districts are responding to new transgender student policies