Last Friday, as Madeline highlighted, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) updated Virginia’s policies on transgender students and pronouns, emphasizing parental involvement. This was a significant change from the previous administration of Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat.
Despite such an update, it appears that the main culprits, Alexandria City Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools, don’t show an intention of complying. As Madeline also covered, Fairfax County, the largest school district in Virginia, was training teachers to transition students without parental consent, which certainly earned the ire of Youngkin.
Townhall has obtained a letter about the guidelines from Fairfax County from Sunday, mentioning the guidelines, but going through great lengths to avoid mentioning “parents,” instead referring to “families.”
The letter in part reads:
On Friday evening, we became aware of a new proposed model policy from the Virginia Department of Education regarding the privacy, dignity, and respect for all students, staff, and families in Virginia’s public schools. The newly proposed model policy is scheduled for a 30-day public comment period starting September 26.
I understand the concerns that our LGBTQIA+ staff, student, and family community have about what this change of direction by the state may mean for our school division. Please be assured that FCPS remains committed to an inclusive learning environment for each and every student and staff member and that our schools will continue to be safe and respectful learning spaces.
Here at Fairfax County Public Schools, we are dedicated to providing a caring climate and culture where each and every student, staff member, and family is welcomed, respected, valued, and supported, as they experience a deep sense of belonging.
It then goes on to list their “core beliefs and mission,” which in part touts how “Everyone thrives in a vibrant, healthful, safe, enriching, and respectful environment” and “Our diversity is a strength that creates resilient, open, and innovative global citizens.”
In conclusion, the letter emphasizes “we remain committed to maintaining equitable opportunities and access for each of our students, staff, and families in a justice-centered, future-focused, and student-driven school environment.”
Another letter that Townhall obtained sent out Monday morning was to all staff and is addressed to “FCPS Colleagues.” In addressing staff “concerns,” the letter again substitutes parents for “families.”
The purpose of the letter is to provide services, including but not limited to counseling. “It is certainly understandable that this news may take time for some of us to process. If you are feeling anxious, frustrated, or overwhelmed, and could use some support, please consider reaching out to” their guidance resources.
The letter closes by noting in part “Please know that FCPS cares about the health and well-being of its employees and seeks to provide support in these areas where possible.”
The Alexandria City letter was shared to Twitter by Julia Gunlock, who pointed out that “parents” are not at all mentioned. As Gunlock also highlighted, the chair sent her kids to private Catholic school.
??Breaking: @ACPSk12 SB Chair Meagan Alderton (who sends her kids to CATHOLIC school) issues statement on @GovernorVA‘s new pro-parent policy saying ACPS will continue to implement & develop “gender affirming care” for kids. “Parent” appears ZERO times in 453-word statement. @IWN pic.twitter.com/QFsxyBpymW
— Julie Gunlock (@JGunlock) September 19, 2022
It’s not just what’s missing that raises concerns. The opening paragraph already speaks of trouble, beginning of how they heard “concern” over the guidelines. It’s not clear who that “concern” comes from, since again, parents are not mentioned. “We want to assure you that the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) will continue its commitment to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students. As a School Board and division, we are concerned with these ‘model policies’ that do not align with our mission, vision and core values to support all students and staff, in particular our core value of ensuring that we provide a welcoming environment for everyone in our school community,” the letter reads, with added emphasis.
A later paragraph also emphasizes “equity” in significant ways in claiming that such “‘model policies’ seek to undermine the vital work and set the clock back on gains we have accomplished as a school division to place racial equity at the heart of our work. We look forward to participating in the public comment period and hearing the voices of others throughout the Commonwealth on this critical issue of importance. We will continue to to review and develop all policies with equity lens,” it read, again, with added emphasis.
The letter also goes on to advertise their “Alexandria LGBTQ+ Task Force.”
Making the omission of “parents” from Alexandria and Fairfax, including how Fairfax replaces the term with “families” is that the new guidelines emphasize parents throughout the 18 pages. They even bear the title of “2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools.“
In the section titled “Purpose,” the guidelines include the following paragraph:
The Department also fully acknowledges the rights of parents to exercise their fundamental rights granted by the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children. The Code of Virginia reaffirms the rights of parents to determine how their children will be raised and educated. Empowering parents is not only a fundamental right, but it is essential to improving outcomes for all children in Virginia.
The next section, “Guiding Principles” is also all about parents. “Parents have the right to make decisions with respect to their children,” it reads. Sub headers include “Schools shall respect parents’ values and beliefs,” “Schools shall defer to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children,” “Schools shall keep parents informed about their children’s well-being,” as well as “Schools shall partner with parents,” among others.
The model policy will have a 30-day public comment period starting September 26.