NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A local organization is putting pressure on school divisions to give parents the final say over their children’s gender identity.
This comes less than a week after the Virginia Beach School Board updated its nondiscrimination policy giving parents the same power.
On Monday, The Family Foundation hosted a rally in Newport News.
“We have updated model policies that put parents in charge,” said Maggie Cleary, special counsel to Virginia’s attorney general.
Dozens of people from three Hampton Roads cities rallied for area school divisions to pass the Virginia Department of Education’s 2023 Model Policies. The policies, which detail the treatment of transgender students, require schools to notify parents if their children are exploring gender identity and to sign off on changes to pronouns or counseling services.
The requirements are now in effect in Virginia Beach City Public Schools following a 9-1 vote and a lawsuit from two parents. Suffolk Public Schools and Newport News Public Schools continue to debate the model policy.
“If school boards don’t adopt these policies that are required by law, they’re opening themselves up and their districts to similar lawsuits,” said VBCPS school board member Victoria Manning.
Those against Youngkin’s model policies say they’re damaging to LGBTQ students.
“Are we seeking to protecting all youth like the model states or are we particularly protecting an agenda and certain youth,” said Julie Snell, LGBT Life Center housing director. “When these parents or guardians learn more about this youth, how they’re presenting themselves at school, it actually puts them at higher risk of abuse and higher risk of homelessness.”
Snell stresses that not all families are accepting of a student’s gender identity and the model policies back LGBTQ students in a corner.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin addressed the model policies last Wednesday after meeting with Jewish community leaders about the violence in Israel.
“The heart of the policy is empowering parents to be at the head of the table,” Youngkin said, “and that no decision should be made for a child without parents fully being engaged and authorizing it.”