VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach School Board has delayed a vote on proposed updates on its current non-discrimination policy that in some ways is consistent with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s model policy, and in other ways, is taken verbatim.
Examples of updates suggested at Tuesday’s Virginia Beach School Board meeting include:
- Parents having the power to change a student’s gender or name on their personal records
- Parents having the opportunity to object to gender-related counseling
- Instructing teachers to not conceal a child’s gender identity from their parents
- Students should use restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their sex or gender identity on school records.
A vote is now expected at the board’s Oct. 10 meeting.
Dozens of LGBTQ+ students came out to the school board’s meeting and spoke out during public comment. The group was dressed in black to symbolize the deaths of their identities if VBCPS aligns the current non-discrimination policies with Youngkin’s model policy.
Two parents recently filed a lawsuit against the Virginia Beach School Board to require the school division to go by Youngkin’s model policies for transgender students.
In an August board meeting, a vote to approve Youngkin’s model policy did not pass, and the board decided to rewrite its current policy.
During its Sept. 12 meeting, the board gave parents the right to change a student’s name and pronouns on school records, instead of the student.
“We are beyond disappointed in the VBCPS School Board,” said Kellam High School junior AJ Quartararo, “the board that is supposed to keep us feeling safe and welcome in our schools, the board that despite the outcry from hundreds of trans children, adopted harmful policies that will repress and endanger those same trans children.”
Parents again weighed in.
“Your twisted focus on children’s genitals has nothing to do with schools to be a safe haven for students and a simple name request,” one parent said.
Another parent said that “the failure of the board to pass these policies into action, be it by abstention or a nay vote, is unacceptable.”
Said a third parent: “We must abide by the law, regardless of personal opinion. The law is the law.”
The school board meeting lasted nearly 8 hours. The meeting began at 6 p.m. and ended around 1:30 a.m.
During discussion, board members flipped through the 16-page policy and discussed different sections.
“I have problems with nicknames not being allowed, with teachers not being allowed to call a nickname unless it’s in writing from the parent,” said Beverly M. Anderson, a school board member.
“It pains me to no end when to hear students who feel like we’ve forgotten them. We have not forgotten them. We will not forget them. No matter what decision is made here. We’ll make whatever decisions work for the students, for the staff, for the parents. And I’ll reiterate that the spirit of the model policies was to bring parents back into the equation on all aspects of education,” said Dr. Donald Robertson, acting superintendent.