News & Politics

Virginia School Districts Push Back Against Youngkin’s Guidelines Restricting Trans Students

Some school officials say Youngkin's rules go against their nondiscrimination policies.

Photograph courtesy of Ted Eytan/Flickr.

Some school districts in Northern Virginia are pushing back against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 2022 Model Policies guidelines that would roll back protections for trans public school students across the state. The policies, which were released on Friday, include requirements for students to use bathrooms corresponding to their sex assigned at birth; the same goes for sports teams or extracurricular groups. In addition, students would need written parental consent to be called their preferred names and pronouns.

Since Youngkin’s new guidelines came out, some local public school officials have expressed their support for transgender students within their respective districts, as well as expressing their concern over Youngkin’s policies.

On Monday, Alexandria City Public Schools sent a letter to families saying the guidelines don’t align with the district’s “mission, vision, and core values to support all students and staff.” Since 2013, ACPS has enforced a policy to protect students against discrimination based on gender expression, gender identity, and transgender status.

ACPS officials also say Youngkin’s policies conflict with their five-year strategic plan to achieve equity for all students across the district. “These ‘model policies’ seek to undermine this vital work and set the clock back on the gains we have accomplished as a school division to place racial equity at the heart of our work,” said interim school superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt and school board chair Meagan Alderton in the letter, which Washingtonian obtained. “We look forward to participating in the public comment period and hearing the voices of others throughout the Commonwealth on this critical issue of importance.”

Meanwhile, Arlington Public Schools superintendent Francisco Durán also released a letter on Monday expressing the district’s support for the rights of transgender, non-binary, and gender-fluid students. “[APS] remains committed to providing school environments that are welcoming, safe and supportive for all students.”

Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent Michelle Reid followed suit by assuring families that FCPS “remains committed to an inclusive learning environment” for all students and staff members.

And this morning, Falls Church Public Schools board chair Laura Downs and superintendent Peter Noonan also issued a statement that FCCPS will continue to enforce its nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies. The statement also said the district will continue to follow the Virginia Human Rights Act and the law established in Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, which prohibits discrimination against transgender students.

Youngkin’s guidelines would go into effect next month, but people can submit their thoughts on the policies during a 30-day public comment period, which begins September 27 and ends October 26.

Damare Baker
Research Editor

Before becoming Research Editor, Damare Baker was an Editorial Fellow and Assistant Editor for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.