Chesapeake School Board adds revisions for LGBTQ students in nondiscrimination policy; updates COVID protocols

Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The Chesapeake School Board re-evaluated the district’s nondiscrimination policy Monday.

The revisions come after board members unanimously agreed to add protections to its current policy for transgender and nonbinary students earlier this month.

In a 6-3 vote Monday, board members approved the following revisions:

  • Annual training for mental health professionals on topics relating to avoidance of discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex including sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • School personnel may not share information on students with other students, parents or staff who do not need to know.
  • Parents have the right to override their child’s preferred name and pronoun.
  • For those who wish to change their name/gender identity, there will be a non-permanent record with the student’s chosen name and pronoun. Changes to permanent records will be considered upon presenting a legal document that align with the requested changes.
  • Students may dress according to their gender identity.
  • A student has the right to join a club/organization regardless of gender.

Many in the LGBTQ community argued that while the update Monday was a step in the right direction, the measure fell short of the Virginia Department of Education’s model policy which expands rights and protections for transgender and nonbinary students.

“It leaves out bathrooms, it leaves out sports, it leaves out overnight trips. You need to include full and complete protections for transgender students,” said advocate Blaizen Bloom in a speech to the board.

Other speakers applauded the school board’s calculated approach, which gives parents the right to know what’s going on with their children in school and, in some cases, the final say on their name, pronoun and gender identity.

“This board did not adopt the model policy. You have a track record for respecting parental authority. I believe our state government has underestimated parents and underestimated the values that our parents hold dear,” said Chesapeake parent Kim Scott.

Additional agenda items addressed during the meeting included COVID-19 protocols and public comment during meetings.

The school board unanimously voted to shorten the COVID-19 exposure quarantine from 14 days to 10 days. Board members also decided to test student-athletes weekly for COVID-19 if they are unvaccinated.

The policy is similar to one passed by Suffolk schools that requires students in high school and middle school sports and extracurricular activities to either get a COVID-19 vaccine or be tested weekly.

A measure to revise public comment at school board meetings and, in some cases, shorten it was tabled to be discussed another time.

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