VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – More than 100 people signed up to speak at the Virginia Beach School Board on Tuesday night, with most focused on a new resolution drafted in support of the district’s LGBTQ+ students.
It’s called the Resolution Nondiscrimination Against LGBTQ+ Youth in Education, and stems from LGBTQ+ students speaking out at school board meetings for months.
“We just want to be heard and have the right to live respectfully within our school, which is supposed to be safe and comfortable for us,” said AJ Quartararo, a student at Kellam High School.
The students also want to keep Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration’s proposed model policies away from the district. The not-yet-approved policies could require parental permission for students to change their name and gender at school.
After hearing students’ concerns, Jessica Owens, a school board member, drafted a resolution.
“They’ve made it very clear with research we all have access to that having a safe space in school where students can feel valued and equal improved educational outcomes. As a school board, that part seems like a no-brainer. That’s our goal,” Owens said.
She says that would happen through this resolution.
Quartararo said adopting the resolution would make their community feel heard.
“Using preferred names and pronouns isn’t just basic respect, it makes us feel seen and heard and valued. Something as simple as changing a word in a sentence can save a trans student’s life,” they said.
One parent said there should be protection for all students.
“We have to find a middle ground here. Our positions are not fueled by hate. Surely there should be protections for all students, including those in the LGBTQ community, and this proposed resolution is not it,” one parent said.
Another speaker said the resolution is divisive and takes away parents’ right to make decisions for their children.
“It is not your job to unwisely weaken families and society by placing school above families or to support political agendas or use schools as a social experiment. You and your administration have one job to educate critical thinkers,” said Paula Chang.
Victoria Manning, a school board member, shares a similar message. She said Virginia Beach City Public Schools already protects students from discrimination.
“I strongly support that no student should be discriminated against and I also strongly support parental rights as afforded under the U.S. Constitution,” Manning said.
Owens told 10 On Your Side that this is a similar resolution to others passed by the board, like nurse appreciation.
She said the resolution would affirm the board’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.
The board didn’t vote on the resolution Tuesday night. That could come at a later meeting.
If passed, it wouldn’t change any policies within VBCPS.