RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — More than a year after the General Assembly passed a law instructing local school divisions to grant protections to transgender students, many counties and cities still haven’t moved to adopt the required policies.
On Thursday, Equality Virginia, an organization advocating for LGBTQ students across the commonwealth, released a database tracking the status of the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) ‘model policy,’ which sets the standard local school divisions must meet.
“Almost half of Virginia’s K-12 students attend schools in divisions that have fully adopted VDOE’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students,” said Narissa S. Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia.
Using Equality Virginia’s data and modifying their findings where research uncovered policy details, 8News composited the map below, showing which Central Virginia localities have adopted the model policies on transgender students.
Dark blue localities are those that adopted the full VDOE model policy.
Light blue shows localities that adopted their own policies, or those of organizations like the Virginia School Board Association, which meet the standards of the model policies.
The localities shown in red are those which either rejected the VDOE’s model policy altogether, or adopted their own policies that provide inadequate protections for trans students.
In places like Hanover, the debate over the division’s treatment of trans students was long and divisive. Hanover initially voted to reject the model policy in 2021, and only adopted its own policy on transgender students in August.
That policy, which was drafted with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group that opposes gay rights, allows the board the final decision on whether trans students can use the bathroom aligning with their gender identity.
School divisions will also have to weigh the result of the Gavin Grimm case, in which a Gloucester County student fought his school division’s refusal to let him use the boy’s bathroom. In a final ruling in September 2020, a federal circuit court held that the school’s policy was unconstitutional.
“These policies, developed in accordance with evidence-based best practices, give teachers and administrators critical tools to create safe, inclusive learning environments for all students,” Rahaman said. “School boards in every corner of our Commonwealth have a unique and urgent opportunity to protect transgender students by adopting the model policies.”