I’ve had a lot of conversations with parents about school safety and threats to young people as Fairfax students have geared up to go back to school. Sadly, one very real risk comes from Virginia’s own Attorney General, who, in defending Glenn Youngkin’s model policies for the treatment of transgender youth in schools, is contributing to danger and harm in our schools instead of keeping our communities safe.
Fairfax County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the country, has been a model for refusing to adopt these policies. But in school districts where they are used, these model policies will prevent transgender students from accessing school resources (including bathrooms and athletic facilities) that accord with their gender identity; prohibit teachers from using a students’ preferred name or pronoun without a parent’s explicit approval; and prohibit school districts from protecting students against forced “outing” to their parents, regardless of the risk it poses to the student’s physical or mental health.
As Commonwealth’s Attorney for the largest jurisdiction in Virginia, I’ve seen firsthand that the work we do in the justice system is only one piece of building long-term safety. To have healthy communities, individuals need to trust their government at all levels, and residents need to feel connected to the social fabric of their communities.
These new model policies do nothing to improve the safety of our students at school. In fact, they put already vulnerable students in more dangerous situations, ignoring data that consistently shows transgender youth are more likely than their peers to have suicidal thoughts, have depression or anxiety, and be bullied or harassed at school. According to the ACLU, Virginia’s new policies “at best, invite discrimination; at worst, require it.”
Miyares has given thin legal cover to this transparent discrimination. At a time when we’re already seeing increasing numbers of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people across the country, his official opinion is both misleading and cruel, and targeted squarely at Virginia’s children.
My daughter started sixth grade last week — an age where it is easy for kids to become cruel and hurtful to each other. Fortunately, she attends Fairfax Public Schools, which, in refusing to abide by the new model policies, have already taught her an important lesson: how to stand up to bullies, protect vulnerable individuals, and keep each other safe.