Home Education Organizations Advocating for Virginia LGBTQ+ Youth: “The school board has let these...

Organizations Advocating for Virginia LGBTQ+ Youth: “The school board has let these families down again. It’s a sad day in Hanover County”

Former VA Sec. Ed. Atif Qarni adds: "What the Hanover School Board just passed is inhumane, discriminatory, and unlawful."

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See below for a statement from “a coalition of the Commonwealth’s leading advocacy organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) equality,” regarding this lunacy – the right-wing Hanover County School Board approving “a new policy requiring transgender students to submit a written request to use facilities that align with their gender identity” and to have  criminal background check. The bottom line, as Jamie Nolan, Co-Executive Director of Side By Side VA said: “Today Hanover County School Board Members voted to deny students access to the supportive and inclusive learning environment that is critical to student success.” Also, as Gov. Ralph Northam’s Secretary of Education Atif Qarni put it: “What the Hanover School Board just passed is inhumane, discriminatory, and unlawful. These bigots on the board need to stop characterizing our transgender children as predators. This board will likely face a massive lawsuit – costing taxpayers millions.” Utterly disgraceful.

Organizations Advocating for Virginia LGBTQ+ Youth Respond to Hanover County School Board Adopting Restroom and Locker Room Policy

Policy will place an undue burden on trans students to “earn” the right to use public school facilities

RICHMOND, VA – Tonight a coalition of the Commonwealth’s leading advocacy organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) equality responded to Hanover County School Board’s (HCSB) decision to adopt Policy 7-1.7 Restroom and Locker Room policy. The policy will require, among other things, transgender students and their parents or guardians to submit written requests to the School Board to use the restrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms that align with their gender identity.

“By adopting the restroom and locker room policy, HCSB has shown it continues to fail the students of Hanover County,” said Narissa S. Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “Policy 7-1.7 will do nothing more than further stigmatize transgender and non-binary students who are already at risk for bullying and discrimination.”

“This proposed bathroom and locker room policy, while appalling, invasive, and harmful, is not a surprise,” said Breanna Diaz, Policy & Legislative Counsel at the ACLU of Virginia. “HCSB has failed at every turn to create a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all its students. The courts have ruled time and again, including in Gavin Grimm’s case, that transgender students should be protected from discrimination. Singling out transgender students and requiring them to go through a burdensome process perpetuates the stigma and harm that has contributed to the alarming suicide and self-harm rates amongst transgender youth.”

“Hanover families have been working so hard to help the school board and community at large learn, understand and accept what it means to be a transgender student in Hanover County Schools,” said Shannon McKay, Executive Director of He She Ze and We. “Trans kids do not need anything special, just access to the same things other students have every day without being harassed or singled out. The school board has let these families down again. It’s a sad day in Hanover County.”

“Today Hanover County School Board Members voted to deny students access to the supportive and inclusive learning environment that is critical to student success,” said Jamie Nolan, Co-Executive Director of Side By Side VA. “These School Board Members say they seek to provide a world-class education, but their actions clearly show otherwise. Side by Side will continue our work to create communities where trans and nonbinary students can define themselves, belong, and flourish.”

HCSB drafted Policy 7-1.7 in consultation with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative, Christian legal advocacy group. This is not the first time HCSB has engaged ADF. On March 8th, HCSB voted to allow ADF to review the board’s equity policy.

In 2020 the Virginia Department of Education released model policies regarding the treatment of transgender and non-binary students in Virginia public schools. All local school boards were required to adopt the policy as a baseline by the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Hanover County School Board adopted some requirements but opted out of policies addressing access to bathrooms and locker rooms.

School-based supports such as supportive and inclusive school policies, school personnel who are supportive of LGBTQ+ students, GSAs, and LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum resources can positively affect school climate for LGBTQ+ students. Findings from GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey demonstrate that students attending schools with these resources and supports report more positive school experiences, including lower victimization and absenteeism and higher academic achievement.

According to GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey, Virginia schools were not safe for most LGBTQ+ secondary school students. In addition, many LGBTQ+ students in Virginia did not have access to important school resources and were not protected by supportive and inclusive school policies.

Equality Virginia is a 501(c)(3) organization working to build a fully inclusive Commonwealth by educating, empowering, and mobilizing Virginians to ensure all LGBTQ+ people are free to live, love, learn, and work.

He She Ze and We is a 501(c)3 non-profit that empowers families on the journey of gender identity through support, education, and advocacy.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia is a private, non-profit organization that promotes civil liberties and civil rights for everyone in the Commonwealth through public education, litigation and advocacy with the goal of securing freedom and equality for all. 

Hanover NAACP works to  secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.

Side by Side is dedicated to creating supportive communities where Virginia’s LGBTQ+ youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish.

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