VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach School Board adopted amendments to its non-discrimination model policy Tuesday night.
The board approved the revisions in a 7-3 vote.
The approval gives the superintendent the authority to create procedures and regulations within the nondiscrimination policy that align with the Virginia Department of Education’s transgender model policy. Any changes made by the superintendent will be made public and can be addressed by the school board.
Public schools across the commonwealth are required by law to revise their current policy or adopt the state’s model policy to protect students who identify as transgender and nonbinary.
The transgender model policy protects transgender and nonbinary students by allowing them to use their preferred pronouns, as well as use bathrooms and locker rooms and play on sports teams that align with their gender identity.
The transgender policy was listed as an action item during the last Virginia Beach School Board meeting but could not be voted on or discussed because of meeting laws.
Board members were not able to vote on the policy last month because it was introduced for the first time in that same meeting — and meeting protocol states action items must be reviewed and discussed first – then school officials can vote on the item during the next meeting.
Now that the policy has been properly introduced, board members were able to vote Tuesday night.
Gavin Grimm kicked off the public comment period during the meeting’s public comment period Tuesday.
Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board for transgender discrimination and won, despite appeals from the school board that took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Grimm, who was born female, was denied the ability to use the boys’ bathroom when he was 15 and in high school in Gloucester.
Grimm also previously attended the Newport News School Board meeting in which the board convened to reconsider adopting state guidelines ensuring protections for transgender and nonbinary students. The board ultimately decided to adopt the policy, despite much back-and-forth on the issue.
Virginia Beach and Chesapeake were the only districts in Hampton Road that started school this fall without having a policy in place.
And Monday night, the Chesapeake School Board revised its current nondiscrimination policy to include protections for all students and staff regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Board members also added the term “inclusivity” to the policy. Chesapeake’s policy is not the same as the state’s model policy, but it does lay down a foundation for future protocols and is the minimum amount of action required by the state.