(The Center Square) – Some Loudoun County parents are urging the school board to adopt the new transgender guidance issued by the Virginia Department of Education, but others want the board to ignore the state mandate.
At a Loudoun County School Board meeting, parents spoke during the public comment period about the new guidelines. The rules shift the control of transgender questions back to parents and require students and staff to use bathrooms and lockerrooms that reflect their biological sex.
Under the new rules proposed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration, schools must adopt policies that ensure parents will be notified before children can receive counseling related to gender questions and that parents will have the opportunity to object. It also gives parents the final say over the name and pronouns used to describe a child in school records. Under former Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration, schools did not need to notify parents and were even encouraged to direct students to resources if their parents did not affirm their transgeder identities. The school system’s current policies reflect the old guidelines.
“This board thinks you are part of the problem, which means they need to protect your child from you,” Clint Thomas, a father with students in the school system, said during the public comment period. “This has become a cult”
Thomas urged the board to adopt new policies that align with the new guidelines.
Jessica Smith, a mother with students in the school system, said the new guidelines prohibit discrimination and harassment, but require parental consent before schools begin to recognize a child’s gender transition. She said it is very important that parents be informed of these issues.
Abby Platt, another mother, said allowing biological males into female bathrooms and biological females into male bathrooms infringes on the privacy of students. She said she hopes that the school board gives as much attention to the new guidelines as when it aligned its policies with the Northam administration’s guidelines.
“My little boys should have as much privacy as every other child,” Platt said.
Other parents defended the current school board policies and criticized the new statewide standards.
“Kids have the right to be who they are and learn in a safe environment,” Kathey Ellen Davis said. “Parents don’t have the right to force their kid to be someone they’re not.”
Davis said that LGBT students suffer from homophobic language and that she wants her children to attend a school in which everyone has equal human rights and are respected for who they are.
Another mother, Andrea Wisecoff, said the current rules in the school system protects the dignity and respect of students regardless of gender identity or sexuality. She noted that Youngkin did not have a majority of the vote in the county and urged the board to challenge the new guidelines in court.
The new rules received support from Republican lawmakers but faced opposition from Democratic lawmakers.