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Virginia wants to reverse the rights of transgender students in public schools > Virginia

Christiansburg, Va – That mass shooting at a club in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has reignited concerns about safety and discrimination in the LGBTQ community. More than half of the states in the US have little to no protections for transgender people, and as early as next week Virginia could reverse its restricted rights in public schools.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration has proposed a new policy which offers protection against discrimination and bullying but requires parental permission to change names or pronouns at school. It would also require students to use bathrooms that match their birth-assigned gender, except to the extent required by federal law.

The rollback policy instituted under Virginia’s former governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, has sparked heated public debate, generating more than 71,000 comments during the public comment period.

Dozens of speakers also sounded the tune during a one-hour session of the Virginia Board of Education on Oct. 20.

Sarah Via, among the parents present, argued that the new policy strengthens parental rights.

“You cannot achieve good quality education or good mental health if you exclude the parents from the process,” she said.

Opponents of Youngkin’s proposal argue schools have become safe places for transgender students and the new policy would jeopardize that.

“Now our teachers, our principals, and our counselors are getting the education and information they need to do justice to kids like Bettie,” said Courtney Thomas, whose 11-year-old child, Bettie Thomas, identifies as non-binary and das uses pronounces “zie” and “zir”.

Bettie said that the children’s book I am Jazz, which tells the story of a transgender child, sparked a conversation about gender when Bettie was 7 years old.

Bettie described it as a “breakthrough” after years of “utter anger” and “confusion.”

“Once Bettie had words to describe how Ze was feeling, Ze was able to begin to move toward a more authentic life,” Courtney said.

Courtney said the accommodating school policies have allowed Bettie to thrive both in the classroom and at home.

“This decision that I made changed my life so much,” Bettie said.

The Thomas family’s greatest concern is for the students who have no support from their parents.

The new policy will not go into effect until approved and finalized by the state superintendent, according to a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education.

While Virginia state law requires school districts to enforce Commonwealth school policies, there is no enforcement mechanism, meaning some schools may choose not to comply.