Hannah Natanson, Washington Post |
Two conservative groups are suing the Virginia Department of Education over its new policy on transgender children, which requires school districts to accept students’ gender identities and allow students access to facilities and opportunities according to those identities.
The policy, which took effect March 6, came in response to a law the Virginia General Assembly passed in 2020 requiring the department to develop and publish rules regulating the treatment of transgender students. That law followed years of activism from transgender teens and teachers, who said the lack of statewide guidance fostered school-permitted discrimination and bullying in some places.
The department’s adopted guidelines, which fill 26 pages, specifically mandate that schools allow students to access “restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities” that conform to their gender identities. The guidelines also stipulate schools should let students participate in gender-specific programs or activities — such as physical education, overnight field trips and intramural sports — according to their gender identities.
The Virginia policies mirror similar guidelines passed in more than a dozen other states. Research suggests there are roughly 4,000 transgender teenagers in the state, and studies have shown that transgender youths are far more likely than cisgender youths to attempt suicide.