RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Reactions are pouring in after the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) announced new guidelines for the treatment of transgender students in K-12 schools. 

The new guidelines replace policies adopted in 2021. The previous guidelines advised school staff to abide by a student’s wishes for what name and pronouns they wanted to use in school.

Now school staff can only use “the name that appears on the student’s official record” and “pronouns appropriate to the sex appearing on the student’s official record.”

“It also sends a message that they are not welcome,” Narissa Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia said. “That their school environments, their classroom and even their teachers can’t support who they are.”  

The 2021 policy also recommended teachers create a plan for students whose parents disagreed with their new name and pronouns. That policy said, “addressing the student at school with their name and pronoun consistent with their gender identity while using the legal name and pronoun associated with the sex assigned at birth when communicating with parents.”

Meanwhile the 2023 plan says, “ No policy…may encourage teachers to conceal information about a student from the student’s parent, including information relating to gender.”

Governor Glenn Youngkin says the new policy ensures parents have a say in their children’s lives

“Difficult circumstances, let’s go to families first,” said Youngkin. “The children belong to parents, not to politicians, bureaucrats, and administrators and not even the teachers that are doing their best here.” 

“I would encourage the children of Virginia to trust your parents and give your parents a try,” Youngkin added. “They love you.” 

Rahaman says only one in three LGBTQ youth have supportive parents and the new policy could put transgender kids in danger. 

“The governor included provisions in this model policy that would forcibly out students to their parents,” Rahaman said. 

Local school districts will be required to adopt policies consistent with VDOE’s guidelines, which went into effect on Wednesday, July 19.