Governor Youngkin’s Model Policies Regarding the Treatment of Transgender Students

Sidney Sandoval, Editor


You’ve probably seen posts regarding Virginia Governor Youngkin’s new anti-trans model policies online, and you’ve definitely heard news of the several walk-outs held at several Fauquier County public highschools. The policies received a fair amount of attention from Virginia’s public school students, and for good reason. So, what do these policies suggest that caused such a spark among students and why is it important to keep the conversation going? 

 In March of 2021, the Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools were adopted by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). These policies addressed confidentiality, student records, dress code, access to activities and facilities, and transgender education in a way that attempted to uplift and make transgender students feel comfortable in school and at home. The new model policies proposed by Virginia Governor Youngkin, on Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools, directly oppose the 2021 policies. 

The document undermines transgender students by defining them as “a public school student whose parent has requested in writing, due to their child’s persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs with his or her sex, that their child be so identified while at school”, under the document’s “Definitions” section. In contrast to the definition in Northam’s 2021 policies“a self-identifiying term that describes a person whose gender identity is different from their sex assigned at birth” Youngkin’s definition is clearly underestimating a student’s ability to identify as their own gender, with or without a parent. Which leads into what these policies are doing; focusing directly on the rights of parents while limiting the rights of transgender students.

The document claims to “support efforts to protect and encourage respect for all students” while [acknowledging] the rights of parents to exercise their fundamental rights…to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children.”  According to the policies, this is done by allowing faculty to out students to their parents, only referring to students with their preferred name and pronouns if approved by a parent, and having students use school facilities that correlate to their biological sex, as opposed to their gender. These conditions focus very little on reassuring transgender students and give parents excessive control over their child’s gender identity, which can be harmful in the case of an unaccepting parent. These new policies are scheduled to go into effect on October 27, after the 30-day public comment period. The response from students and legislators has provided students with hope, but it is ultimately a step backwards.




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Virginia Department of Education. (2021). Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools (pp. 6, 12–20) [Model Policies].

Virginia Department of Education. (2022). 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools (pp. 1–5) [Model Policies].

VPM News. (2022, September 21). Is it enforceable?: Youngkin’s proposed trans student policy examined.; NPR.