In a move that should surprise none of us anymore, Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin’s office released a set of “Model Policies” which are largely targeted at restricting a trans student’s ability to be named and treated in the way that they want to be.

There is a portion which specifically requires that students use the restroom that matches their gender identity at birth unless they have filed full legal documentation with the state. The stated reason for these model policies is to protect freedom of speech (specifically in the freedom not to speak a student’s preferred pronouns / name) and to guarantee “the rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children”. In service of the second part, there are numerous sections which outline how schools must inform parents about their students, especially in regards to gender identity, names, and pronouns.

Now when the two come into conflict, a separate section which makes it clear that no amount of paperwork or requests from a parent can force a teacher or administrator to refer to a student by their chosen name or pronouns if doing so would violate the educator’s personally held beliefs.

The document also contains a complete repudiation of the 2021 Model Policies (which are difficult to find), which would have been written by the democratic governor at the time, Terry McAuliffe.

Whether it will ever be admitted as official policy, the obvious result of these policies will be to make life harder for trans students attending a public school in Virginia. Requiring disclosure to parents who might be less than supportive and requiring every teacher and administrator be allowed to deadname students if they want to seems to serve little benefit for student safety and will likely further marginalize an already marginalized community.

These policies are not being enforced yet and officially will be in an open comment period starting on September 26th and ending on October 26th of this year. You can comment here once the comment period opens.

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