ASHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — A Hanover parent is suing the county’s school board over the policy it approved requiring transgender students to submit a request to use school bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

The lawsuit was filed in Hanover County Circuit Court by the ACLU of Virginia on behalf of Ashley Hession, the parent of a transgender student.

The lawsuit, first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, challenges the school district’s policy regarding transgender students adopted by the Hanover County School Board in late August.

Under the policy, transgender students and their guardians have to submit written requests to school administrators to use the restrooms and locker rooms that align with the student’s gender identity. It also gives the school board the authority to approve or deny the requests.

“Hanover’s policy discriminates against transgender students by requiring them to submit to an invasive and burdensome investigation in order to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity in violation of the model policies, which require that schools accommodate all transgender students,” the lawsuit states.

“Hanover’s policy also puts transgender students at risk of harassment, public disclosure of their transgender identity, and social stigma by treating transgender children as security threats and predators.”

The adoption of the policy comes after the county’s school board voted last year not to approve policies allowing students to use bathrooms and school facilities aligning with their gender identity, as Virginia school divisions were required to under legislation passed by the state legislature. The lawsuit cites the decision, claiming the adopted policy violates state law.

“The policy violates state law because it does not comport with the Virginia Code § 22.1-23.3, which requires all school districts to adopt trans-inclusive policies in conformity with the model policies promulgated thereunder by the Virginia Department of Education,” the lawsuit asserts.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration unveiled a plan in mid-September that aims to overhaul the department’s policy, but questions have come up about whether a change can be made.

“VDOE’s proposed model policies contradict their legal mandate, and Virginians have submitted comments opposing these dangerous proposals by a ratio of 7:1,” ACLU-VA Staff Attorney Geri Greenspan said in a statement. “We’ll be watching VDOE closely to see if the department rescinds their proposals and re-instates the 2020 model policies that put protections in place for trans students, teachers, and parents.” 

School Board Chairman John Axselle III said in an email that the board does not comment on pending litigation.

The 30-day comment period on Youngkin’s transgender student policy closes at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 26. You can submit a comment and review the ones already put forward here.

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