ASHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — The Hanover County School Board approved a policy requiring transgender students to submit a request to use school bathrooms that align with their gender identity and giving the board the authority to approve or deny the requests.
The new policy, passed during a special meeting Tuesday, comes after the county’s school board voted last year not to adopt policies, as Virginia school divisions were required to under legislation passed by the state legislature, allowing students to use bathrooms and school facilities aligning with their gender identity.
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.
The policy says administrators can request a meeting with the student and their guardians, and “will receive all relevant information, which may include:”
- a statement from the student that, among other things, specifies their gender identity and how they have consistently, persistently and insistently expressed that identity
- signed statements from the student’s personal physician, therapist or licensed counselor verifying that the student has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and/or that the student consistently and authentically expresses a binary gender identity
- statements from the student’s parent or guardian
- student disciplinary or criminal records
- information related to the privacy and safety of other students
- any other relevant information, including documents from other interested parties
A proposed amendment to remove language in the policy allowing the school board to review a student’s criminal records was rejected Tuesday night.
According to Hanover School Board Chairman John F. Axselle III, the policy was an effort between the board, its attorney and counsel from Alliance Defending Freedom. Hanover’s school board approved a plan in March to have ADF, which some have classified as an “anti-LGBTQ hate group,” review the district’s policy regarding the treatment of LGBTQ students after Axselle reached out to ADF.
State lawmakers passed a law in 2020 requiring all school districts to adopt guidelines crafted by the Virginia Department of Education regarding transgender and nonbinary students by the start of the 2021-22 school year.
The model guidelines from VDOE call for students to be allowed to use pronouns in school bathrooms and locker rooms that reflect their gender identity. VDOE’s policies also state that schools should support a need for privacy and “not disclose a student’s gender identity to other students or parents.”
Under the 2020 law, school boards in Virginia were required to adopt rules “that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive than” the model guidance from VDOE.
The Hanover School Board adopted some requirements last November but opted against implementing new rules allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identities. That decision led the Virginia ACLU to file a lawsuit against the board on behalf of five parents of transgender students.