In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161 which requires a change in policy related to the “treatment of transgender students in Virginia’s public schools.” Virginia’s Department of Education is now crafting guidance that will be sent to all Virginia public school boards. There are several problems with new policy: 1) This policy change puts girls at risk, 2) This policy change harms the child-parent relationship, and 3) This new policy will diminish parental rights. This is the statement I submitted to the Virginia Department of Education:
Support Women and Girls!
As a mother of a Virginia public school student, I am deeply disturbed by this proposal, which will not only harm young girls and women, but allow public schools to deny parents information about their own child’s developmental issues and undermine a parent’s role in their child’s life. The proposal states that schools, not parents, are the ones who should help a student make decisions about “gender identity.”
In fact, the proposal states (emphasis mine), “Regardless of the circumstances, the school should support the student’s need for privacy and not disclose a student’s gender identity to other students or parents.” Further, the proposal seeks to punish parents who might question a child’s decisions to change their “gender identity,” by allowing public school staff to report parents for “abuse” if they are not supportive of their child’s decision to identify as a different gender than their sex at birth.
The proposal also raises safety issues in that any student who simply self-identifies as another gender no matter their sex at birth and without any evidence that such identity has been asserted for any sort of duration, can use the same bathroom, changing facility, or overnight accusations, as those of a different biological sex.
For young women and especially women who have survived physical abuse and sexual assault, sharing a bathroom with or having to remove clothing in front of an individual who was born and might even have gone through puberty as the opposite sex (which means they will likely still look like a member of the opposite sex in size and physical characteristics), can be very traumatic.
Please consider the damage these policies will do not just to women and girls, but also to the parental bonds that are critical to a child’s healthy development.