Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s anti-trans student policies will be delayed at least 30 days after more than 71,000 written comments were submitted to the Virginia Department of Education, including one that triggered the delay.
According to state law, the effective date of a guidance document proposed by a state agency has to be delayed 30 days if a written comment is received during a public comment period asserting that the guidance document is contrary to state law or regulation.
The author of the state law codifying the current model policies for trans students that Youngkin is seeking to replace, Fairfax Democratic Del. Marcus Simon, submitted a comment to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall website contending that he “can confidently say that the newly proposed model policies do not meet the criteria laid out in my bill.”
Simon wrote that state code calls for policies “’that address common issues regarding transgender students in accordance with evidence-based best practices.’ The proposed policies cite no evidence and are contrary to best practices for the treatment of transgender students.”
The Youngkin model policies define a transgender student 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 from his or her sex, that their child be identified while at school.”
The proposed policies state that the legal name and sex of a student can’t be changed “even upon written instruction of a parent or eligible student” without an official legal document or court order.
And then this: teachers and other school officials can only refer to a student by their pronouns associated with their sex at birth.
Staff members also don’t have to refer to a student’s preferred names regardless of paperwork if they feel doing so “would violate their constitutionally protected rights.”
Recent court decisions, including a 2020 United States Supreme Court ruling written by Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, and another 2020 ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a Virginia case, have upheld protections for transgender people and trans students.
In the Virginia case, the appeals court ruled in favor of former Gloucester County high school student Gavin Grimm, deciding that restroom policies segregating transgender students from their peers are unconstitutional and violate Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education.
The Supreme Court declined to take up the Grimm case on appeal.
A notice on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall website is noting that the effective date of the Youngkin policies has been delayed until Nov. 26 while comments are evaluated.